An LGBTQ group backing presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg has accused a top staffer on Michael Bloomberg’s campaign of anti-gay rhetoric during an event at Bloomberg’s campaign headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, last week. The LGBTQ Victory Fund, which works to promote LGBTQ candidates for political office, claimed Bloomberg’s North Carolina State Director James Mitchell also endorsed homophobic remarks made by Pastor Dwayne Walker, who was in attendance at the event. According to an article on the website Gen, Mitchell referred to the former mayor of South Bend as “Butti-jay,” which, “amid laughter,” he clarified was an allusion to a nickname previously given by Walker. The LGBTQ Victory Fund alleged that nickname is “Butti-gay.” Walker, in turn, proceeded to comment on Buttigieg’s marriage to his husband, Chasten, stating he wasn’t “comfortable with that.”
Mitchell, who allegedly laughed alongside Walker, later told the press he had attempted to “diffuse” the “inappropriate” joke, but admitted his attempts to do so could have been “stronger.” Houston Mayor Annise Parker, the president of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, found Mitchell’s passivity to be another indicator of the campaign’s views on LGBTQ issues. “For his team to be untroubled by name-calling based in homophobia, and then to repeat it in Bloomberg headquarters to potential supporters, is a blatant appeal to prejudice,” Parker said.