During a fancy soiree this weekend in Washington, D.C., former vice president Mike Pence aimed homophobic remarks at Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, the first out cabinet secretary in U.S. history.
He spoke at the Gridiron Dinner, an annual white-tie event attended by more than 600 journalists and politicians. Pence attempted to poke fun at his fellow politicians in his speech, which is common in Gridiron Dinner orations.
Pence appears to be positioning himself for a 2024 presidential run, so he turned his attention to Donald Trump. The former vice president joked that Trump’s fragile ego required him to have Pence sing “Wind Beneath My Wings” at their weekly lunches.
“I read that some of those classified documents they found at Mar-a-Lago were actually stuck in the president’s Bible,” Pence said. “Which proves he had absolutely no idea they were there.”
However, as he continued, Pence demonstrated that there are humor and bigotry, and he crossed into the latter.
Pence complained that despite travel problems plaguing Americans, Buttigieg took “maternity leave” after he and his husband adopted twins in 2021, the Associated Press reports.
Republicans have been up in arms ever since Buttigieg availed himself of paternity leave to which he was entitled, joining his husband Chasten as the two men cared for their newborn infants.
“Pete is the only person in human history to have a child, and everybody else gets post-partum depression,” Pence added.
On Monday, the White House requested that the former vice president apologize.
“The former vice president’s homophobic joke about Secretary Buttigieg was offensive and inappropriate, all the more so because he treated women suffering from postpartum depression as a punchline,” White House press secretary Karine-Jean Pierre said in a statement to the Washington Blade. “He should apologize to women and LGBTQ people, who are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect.”
Pence’s tired homophobic antics did not amuse people on Twitter.
“Hey, Mike Pence: your homophobic attack on Pete Buttigieg last night was disgusting but unsurprising for you. Just know that Pete Buttigieg is smarter and more courageous than you ever will be. You messed around with the wrong person and you will regret it,” wrote political activist Victor Shi.
“Reminder: This is who Mike Pence made disgusting and homophobic attacks on, a loving family,” wrote another user with a photograph of Chasten and Pete Buttigieg along with their son and daughter.
For his part, Chasten Buttigieg — in a subtle response — posted an update on the family’s Sunday, the morning after Pence’s comments.
“There is nothing better than the sound of toddler giggles, and the pitter-patter of their happy feet running towards you in the kitchen on a Sunday morning. Pancakes are ready. Have a good day, friends,” Chasten Buttigieg wrote.
On Monday, Chasten took Pence directly to task, tweeting an image of Pete Buttigieg holding one of the infants in the pediatric intensive care unit.
"An honest question for you, @Mike_Pence, after your attempted joke this weekend. If your grandchild was born prematurely and placed on a ventilator at two months old - their tiny fingers wrapped around yours as the monitors beep in the background - where would you be?" he wrote.