Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s husband Chasten revealed that former Vice President Mike Pence has not reached out to apologize after he made a homophobic joke during the Gridiron Club dinner. Chasten called out Pence for joking that his husband had gone on “maternity leave,” during an interview on The View on Thursday, March 16.
.@Chasten Buttigieg responds to what the White House called a "homophobic joke" made by former Vice Pres. Pence aimed at his husband @SecretaryPete for taking paternity leave: "It flies in the face of what he says he is — he says he's a 'family values' Republican." pic.twitter.com/SDYTPen905
— The View (@TheView) March 16, 2023
The White House has called on Pence to apologize to the Buttigiegs as well as women and the LGBTQ+ community for the comment, per CNN. “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,” Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
When asked if Pence had reached out to him or his husband on The View, the I Have Something To Tell You author said that the former vice president hadn’t, and he said that calling it out is common human decency. “I think it’s not ‘woke’ to say that something is homophobic or misogynistic. It doesn’t make it ‘woke’, it doesn’t make you a ‘snowflake’ to tell someone they’ve made a mistake,” he said. “I spoke up for two reasons: I’m always going to stick up for my family, especially my kid.”
Chasten had previously called out the former vice president by sharing a photo on Instagram of Pete in a hospital room with their son Gus, who was in the ICU in November 2021. He reiterated that any parent would want to be with their child in such a difficult time. “I know we all struggle to find a balance between work and family life, and I’ve never seen someone work harder than my husband to find that balance, but I think Republican or Democrat, we can all agree that: when your child—our prematurely born child, barely five pounds—when your kid is connected to a ventilator, you don’t want to be anywhere but at their bedside,” he said. “I would watch Pete have to peal Gus’ fingers back and duck into the little bathroom in his room so he could do a zoom with a virtual background so nobody could see that he was in the hospital.”
As he continued, Chasten said that it was important to call out people for offensive comments, and he pointed out how hypocritical it was for Pence to criticize his husband based on what he claims his values are. “We all have an obligation to hold people accountable for when they say something wrong, especially when it’s misogynistic, especially when it’s homophobic, and I just don’t take that when it’s directed at my family, and I don’t think anybody else would, especially when you bring a very small, medically-fragile child into it,” he said. “It flies in the face of what he says he is. He says he’s a family values Republican. I don’t think he’s practicing what he preaches here.”
The transport secretary has also called out Republicans for making jokes about his sexuality in the past. During an April 2022 appearance on The View, Pete had spoke about how he hoped that students who are members of the LGBTQ+ community weren’t hurt by politicians who had acted like “bullies” to him. “You’re not alone. It is hard to be especially a middle schooler. Even if you’re not LGBTQ+ or anything! It’s hard, and you throw that in, and you think about what these kids are asked about. There might be bullies in your school. You don’t need bullies in the state house added to that,” he said.