It didn't take long for South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg to remind the audience of his connection to the LGBTQ Presidential Forum.
Buttigieg said he would promise to be "a president who understands that all politics is personal... precisely because of my experience as a member of the LGBTQ community." Buttigieg, who served in the Navy reserve, reminded the audience of the eighth anniversary of the "don't ask, don't tell" repeal and promised to end President Trump's ban on trans military service. The mayor also promised the sign the Equality Act and to appoint "an administration and a judiciary that understands that American freedom is the freedom to be who you are and love who you love."
Buttigieg promised equitable housing policies and stated that if he had a Cabinet Secretary who spoke about trans people the way Housing Secretary Ben Carson did this week, "that would be their last day in federal service." The candidate also promised to end "conversion therapy."
Buttigieg spoke of a need for "a culture of belonging"; a return to empathy and compassion missing since Trump took office.
Advocate editor-in-chief Zach Stafford asked Buttigieg about the current ban on blood donations from sexually active gay and bi men. Buttigieg described how he couldn't take part in the annual South Bend blood drive because of who he is.
"I would direct the FDA to reevaulate it so what we're doing is consistent with what medicine is telling us and not was prejudice is," Buttigieg said.
Buttigieg was then questioned about so-called religious freedom legislation. He said it's "not only abusive towards LGBTQ people but abusive towards the idea of faith... when faith is used as an excuse to harm someone it's an insult to religion itself, not to mention all the people being discriminated against."
The mayor discussed how the business community revolted against Indiana's RFRA legislation, along with many good-natured people. "We should recognize there are people from a certain generation who were brought up to reject who we are and they're on a journey and we should help them, rather than drag them, to the right place." Buttigieg spoke of embracing a culture of compassion, including in churches and religious institutions.
When asked about ensuring health services for rural people and LGBTQ people outside of urban areas, the mayor said he would institute "health equity zones" that target areas where services are hard to access. Once we have "more culturally competent and, frankly, just plain more diverse medical profession a lot of these things get better."