Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg,
the openly gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana, received a huge round of
applause on Saturday when he told a crowd in Iowa that leaders from
countries where being gay is illegal will have to “get used” to
dealing with a gay president.
Buttigieg made his comments during a
town hall at Decorah High School.
“How do you intend to deal with
international leaders from countries like Saudi Arabia and Russia
where it's illegal to be gay?” an audience member asked.
“So, they're going to have to get
used to it,” Buttigieg answered.
Buttigieg's response received 27
seconds of applause from the audience.
Buttigieg surges in Iowa; closes in on Elizabeth Warren, Bernie
Sanders, Joe Biden.)
“One great thing about America is
that when we’re at our best, we have challenged places around the
world to acknowledge freedom, and include more people in more ways,”
Buttigieg continued. “And whether it is by policy or just by
example, America is at her best when we have done that.”
“Not every country is there, and my
real concern is not how those leaders are going to treat me –
they’ll treat me as the president of the United States when we
interact as nations do. The problem, of course, is how [LGBT] people
are being treated in those countries,” he said.
Gay sex is punishable by death in Saudi
Arabia and more than 70 additional countries. Russia has a law that
prohibits “gay propaganda,” making it difficult for LGBT rights
groups to organize. In both nations, anti-LGBT rhetoric – even from
leaders – is commonplace.
Buttigieg said that his election as
president would have a positive impact on LGBT people around the
“I do believe that one big step
forward would be for a country like the United States to be led by
somebody that [LGBT] people in those other countries can look to and
know that they're not alone,” Buttigieg said.