Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, is the first openly gay candidate to compete for a party’s presidential nomination. He’s appeared on magazine covers with his husband and he’s given interviews about what the process of coming out was like for him.
However, it was perhaps inevitable that Buttigieg’s candidacy would eventually attract a homophobic reaction.
Speaking in Dallas on Friday, per ABC News, the candidate was interrupted by protestors telling him “marriage is between a man and a woman” and that he should “repent.” Another protestor was escorted out of the venue after shouting anti-abortion comments at the candidate.
Per reporter DJ Judd of CNN, on Twitter, who was at the event live, Buttigieg reacted to the interruption by referencing his own military service.
“The moment I packed my bags for Afghanistan, to defend that man’s freedom of speech…” Buttigieg said.
Last month, Pete was interrupted by hecklers who made similar sentiments at a campaign rally event in Iowa, per The Hill. After protestors shouted “Sodom and Gomorrah,” Buttigieg replied that “the good news is the condition of my soul is in the hands of God, but the Iowa caucuses are up to you.”
Another Democratic candidate, former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke, defended Buttigieg and denounced the comments.
“Texans don’t stand for this kind of homophobia and hatred. Mayor Pete, we are grateful you came to Texas and hope to see you and Chasten back again soon,” O’Rourke said on Twitter about his rival for the Democratic nomination. O’Rourke had also been campaigning in the Dallas/Fort Worth area the same night.
At the time of writing, it doesn’t appear that any other Democratic presidential candidates have addressed the incident.
Pete Buttigieg heckled by homophobic protesters at Texas event: Hecklers shouted homophobic slogans at Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg at an event in Texas, prompting another White House hopeful to speak out, according to reports. They… https://t.co/noaFLxkVul pic.twitter.com/Pz0pUGiKdu
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Buttigieg, who is only 37 years old, has been mayor of South Bend since he was elected in 2011. A former Naval intelligence officer who served in Afghanistan, Buttigieg came out as gay in 2015 when he was in his early 30s. He married his husband Chasten last year after the couple met on the dating app Hinge. Buttigieg is also a vocal Christian and a practicing Episcopalian.
Buttigieg’s campaign has been steadily gaining national attention, and soon, he won’t even be the only mayor vying for the Democratic nomination. Bill de Blasio, the current mayor of New York City, will be throwing his hat in the ring for the Democratic nomination next week, as reported by the New York Daily News.