Ever since the 2016 presidential campaign, our moral, ethical, and intellectual betters have warned us that putting Mike Pence a heartbeat away from the presidency will inevitably lead to concentration camps on American soil to turn gay people straight. (They keep babbling something about shock therapy. They’re really worked up about that part of their fantasy. They think Pence is going to torture gays with a car battery or something.) Supposedly, right-wing Christians have brought America to the brink of gaypocalypse. And yet it keeps… not happening. We’re over two years into the Trump era, and gay people aren’t any worse off than they were under Obama.* In fact, now you can even be openly gay and still become a viable presidential candidate. That’s progress, isn’t it? That’s a good thing, right?
Wrong. Not good enough. Once a victim, always a victim.
Pete Buttigieg may not become president or win the Democratic primary, but he’s already broken a barrier by delving publicly and intimately into his struggle with his own sexuality in a way no other serious presidential candidate has…
On the trail, Buttigieg has emphasized how he and his husband are similar, not different, from heterosexual couples across the country… Taking direct swipes at Vice President Mike Pence, he said his marriage last year to schoolteacher Chasten Buttigieg had made him a better man, “and yes, Mr. Vice President, it has moved me closer to God.
“That’s the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand: That if you have a problem with who I am, your quarrel is not with me,” Buttigieg said. “Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.”
“If you have a problem with who I am.” That’s a big “if,” Pete.
What’s the “quarrel”? When has Mike Pence ever said anything bad about Pete Buttigieg? There must be a relevant quote somewhere, right?
No, there isn’t. In fact, here’s what Pence actually said about the issue in 2015, when he was governor of Indiana and Buttigieg came out of the closet.
When WSBT 22 asked Pence what he thought of Buttigieg’s announcement, he replied, “I hold Mayor Buttigieg in the highest personal regard. We have a great working relationship. I see him as a dedicated public servant, and a patriot.”
At worst, this statement is bloodlessly neutral. Pence can be carefully, studiously noncommittal when he needs to be, as shown every time he manages to keep a straight face while Trump is talking. But if he has a problem with who Pete Buttigieg is, so far he’s kept it to himself.
If I saw a restaurant owner refuse to serve a gay couple, I wouldn’t eat there anymore. http://t.co/QCAPBfnJzL
— Governor Mike Pence (@GovPenceIN) March 30, 2015
Of course, that’s not sufficient for Woke America. Merely tolerating people who are different than you is no longer good enough. You must publicly exalt their personal choices. You must stand and weep with joy and applaud their bravery. If you don’t perform, you’re branded a bigot.
Speaking only for myself as always, Buttigieg’s sexuality is the least interesting thing about him. I couldn’t possibly care less. I’m much more bothered by his policies than his pastimes. As a lifelong Hoosier watching two local boys fight it out — or, more accurately, one local boy throwing a tantrum while the other one just shrugs — I much prefer Pence to a red-diaper baby like Buttigieg.
Identity politics is stupid and boring, but it works. It’s the only reason Democrats care about this guy. Attacking Pence is a good strategy, politically speaking, but it just shows that Buttigieg is no different than the dozens of other Dems running for president.
Congratulations on opening our eyes, Mayor Pete. Gay people can be cynical, backstabbing jerks too.
*Well, not under Obama, I wasn’t trying to… Oh, just forget it, alright?