“I’m not interested in feuding with the vice president,” Mayor Pete Buttigieg told Ellen DeGeneres on Friday’s episode of her daytime talk show.
And yet that’s more or less what he’s been doing now for months. Back in February, the openly gay 2020 presidential hopeful was on The Late Show when Stephen Colbert asked him how he was able to work with Mike Pence, who, as governor of Indiana, signed into law an anti-gay bill that allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people on the basis of “religious freedom.”
“If he were here, you would think he is a nice guy to your face, but he’s also just fanatical,” Buttigieg told Colbert at the time. And that includes the vice president’s belief that being gay is a choice. “And the thing about it is, if that was a choice, it was a choice that was made way above my pay grade,” the mayor added. “So what he doesn’t realize is that his quarrel is with my creator. My marriage has moved me closer to God and I wish he respected that.”
More recently, Buttigieg reiterated that point during a speech for the LGBTQ Victory Fund, prompting Pence to fire back by saying, “He said some things that are critical of my Christian faith and about me personally. And he knows better—he knows me.” The vice president went on to accuse Buttigieg of attacking him just to prove how “liberal” he is next to the rest of the 2020 field.
“I’m not critical of his faith,” Buttigieg told DeGeneres during this week’s interview. “I’m critical of bad policies. I don’t have a problem with religion, I’m religious too. I have a problem with religion being used as a justification to harm people.”
If Pence wanted to “clear this up,” Buttigieg said, “he could come out today and say that he’s changed his mind, that it shouldn’t be legal to discriminate against anybody in this country for who they are. That’s all.”