Former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and 2020 presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg gracefully responded to Rush Limbaugh’s homophobic comments on his sexuality, marriage, and candidacy when appearing on CNN’s State of the Union this Sunday.
Before we get into the clip, let’s go over how the subject of Buttigieg and his husband, Chasten Buttigieg, came up, to begin with. As reported by The Daily Beast, Limbaugh, a divorced conservative radio host who, as you might have tried to block from your memory, was recently awarded the Medal of Freedom by Donald Trump, suggested that “despite all the great progress and despite all the great wokeness, and despite all the great ground that’s been covered, America’s still not ready to elect a gay guy kissing his husband on the debate stage president,” on his radio show.
“I love my husband. I’m faithful to my husband,” Buttigieg said to Dana Bash on Sunday. “On stage, we usually just go for a hug. But I love him very much. And I’m not going to take lectures on family values from the likes of Rush Limbaugh.”
Here’s that clip.
“I love my husband. I’m faithful to my husband,” @petebuttigieg responds to conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh’s recent comments. “I’m not going to take lectures on family values from the likes of Rush Limbaugh.” #CNNSOTUhttps://t.co/bOje6TVl1s pic.twitter.com/icNbNMetlw
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) February 16, 2020
“37-year-old gay guy kissing his husband on stage, next to Mr. Man Donald Trump,” Limbaugh said on his show. “What’s going to happen here?” None of this is surprising from Limbaugh, but it’s certainly disturbing.
Even among the LGBTQ community, Buttigieg is a divisive candidate on the left. Some people, including queer people, feel that he is not queer nor radical enough based on his politics and policy proposals. Buttigieg is more moderate than some progressives, like Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, especially on subjects like student loan relief and healthcare. What is also true, however, is the fact that an openly gay person running for president with a major party is historic.
Buttigieg’s visibility as an openly queer person, and especially as an openly queer person who shows (for the record, modest) physical affection with his same-sex partner is, in itself, revolutionary. Those factors don’t make him the most progressive candidate; again, that comes down to his policies and actions. But in a country where LGBTQ people still face employment and housing discrimination, heightened rates of forms of violence and assault, and are still risking estrangement and isolation even by coming out, Buttigieg’s candidacy and choice to even have his husband on stage with him is an act of bravery. And there’s nothing inappropriate about it.