Out Indiana mayor warns of danger with Pence on GOP ticket

Pete Buttigieg, the openly gay mayor of South Bend, Ind., addresses the Pennsylvania delegation breakfast July 26. Photo: Paige Cooperstein, Philadelphia Gay News

Most Americans are not aware of how extreme Mike Pence is, the openly gay mayor of a university town in Indiana told PGN.

“We’re talking about probably the most extreme ideological pick in my lifetime,” said Pete Buttigieg, the 34-year-old rising star in the Democratic Party. “While he’s a very nice guy, there would be very serious consequences to having him as vice president, especially in a presidency like what Donald Trump has in mind.”

According to aides to John Kasich, formerly a contender for the Republican presidential nomination, Trump’s campaign reached out and said if Kasich wanted to be vice president he could be in charge of foreign and domestic policy. That represents essentially all the responsibilities of governing. Trump’s campaign has denied the reports.

Buttigieg became mayor of South Bend, Ind., in 2012. His tenure overlaps with Pence, the state’s governor who was recently tapped to join the Republican ticket led by Trump.
Addressing a packed Pennsylvania delegation breakfast Tuesday morning, Buttigieg said Pence sent $80 million earmarked for prekindergarten back to Washington because he didn’t want to be caught cooperating with a Democratic president. He added Pence created a state-run news agency that drew comparisons to the Soviet Union.
“Most famously,” Buttigieg said, Pence “lost the respect of business, Republicans and Democrats in the state of Indiana by signing a bill that would’ve made it legal to discriminate against LGBT people so long as you remembered to use religion as an excuse after the fact.”
To counteract religious freedom laws that don’t protect the LGBT community from discrimination, Buttigieg said Democrats shouldn’t let Republicans own the idea of freedom.
“We’ve allowed Republicans to claim to be the party of freedom,”  he said. “If I want to not have a background check next time I go to procure a gun, they’ll have my back for that. But where were they when I needed my freedom most? The deep personal freedoms…like, when I joined the military, it would’ve been nice to have had the freedom to be able to be honest about who I was and who I loved. But when it came time for that freedom, [Republicans didn’t support it]. You’re not free if you can’t marry someone you love.”

Buttigieg expanded on that idea when discussing the Equality Act with PGN. The law would add LGBT protections from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.
He said local politicians like mayors could push the Equality Act by talking about it with colleagues “in terms of freedom.”
“This is about whether people are able to live free and equal lives,” Buttigieg said. “I think we need to have that message across the country. People respond to it. Most of America is already there on these issues. It’s just a handful of politicians who want to get in the way. We’ve got to turn the tide.”


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