Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg dismissed a proposal by former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke to strip churches of tax exemptions if they refuse to host same-sex weddings.
"I agree that antidiscrimination law ought to be applied to all institutions, but the idea you are going to strip churches of their tax-exempt status if they haven't found their way toward blessing same-sex marriage?" Buttigieg told CNN's State of the Union Sunday. "I'm not sure he understood the implications of what he was saying."
O'Rourke made his suggestion at a CNN Town Hall event on LGBTQ issues featuring nine Democratic presidential hopefuls. There, out anchor Don Lemon asked O'Rourke if "religious institutions like colleges, churches, charities, should they lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage?"
O'Rourke said they should, and that "there can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone or any institution, any organization in America that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us."
But Buttigieg, an outspoken Christian and married gay man, said that ignores both political consequences and potential legal protections enjoyed by religious institutions.
"That means going to war not only with churches but I would think with mosques and a lot of organizations that may not have the same view of various religious principles that I do, but also because of the separation of church and state, are acknowledged as nonprofits in this country," Buttigieg told CNN anchor Jake Tapper.
"If we want to talk about antidiscrimination law for a school or an organization, absolutely. They should not be able to discriminate," he said, referring to using antidiscrimination laws to potentially punish bias. "But going after the tax exemption of churches, Islamic centers, or other religious facilities in this country, I think that's just going to deepen the divisions that we're already experiencing."