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Pete Buttigieg accuses GOP of using anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric to distract from their “radical positions”

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Pete Buttigieg in 2019 Photo: Shutterstock

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said that Republicans are attacking LGBTQ+ rights to distract from their own “radical positions.” These positions include opposition to improving national infrastructure and decreasing the cost of insulin, he said.

During Buttigieg’s Tuesday appearance on MSNBC, network anchor Chris Jansing asked him about the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) recent declaration of a national emergency for LGBTQ+ people.

The HRC’s declaration noted that over 75 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been signed into law this year, more than doubling 2022’s number. Fifteen states have passed gender-affirming care bans, four have passed “Don’t Say Gay” laws, and seven have passed laws forcibly outing students to their parents.

“Our country is at a very real risk of backsliding on freedom and equality, but that is exactly why we continue to push,” Buttigieg began.

He then highlighted President Joe Biden’s signing of the Respect for Marriage Act last December as part of the “extraordinary work” that has been done for LGBTQ+ rights under this administration. The law requires the federal and state governments to recognize same-sex and interracial marriages performed by other states.

He also highlighted that his role as an out gay man in a presidential cabinet position is proof of larger social progress on LGBTQ+ acceptance. However, he then noted recent political attacks on LGBTQ+ people, “especially on the trans community.”

“I think it’s being done out of the perception that it is politically convenient to target vulnerable groups,” he said. “And honestly, I think where it largely comes from is folks who don’t want to talk about why they were against the infrastructure loans, building roads and bridges. They don’t want to talk about why they were against $35 insulin that the president delivered for Medicare recipients. They don’t want to explain why they were for these radical positions… So they’re focused on targeting some of the people who already do not have a very easy time going about everyday life.”

Thirty Republican senators and 200 Republican House members voted against the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill in 2021. Some who voted against it called it “wasteful” but later took credit for its benefits within their home districts. In August 2022, Republican senators voted to remove a $35 insulin price cap for individuals with private health insurance. Insulin, a drug used to treat diabetes, costs eight times more in the U.S. than it does in 32 other high-income nations, according to a 2020 study commissioned by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The highest polling Republican presidential candidates — former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley — have all advocated for transphobic laws and bans on LGBTQ+ content in classrooms as part of their campaign platforms.

Buttigieg then told Jansing that life is already difficult enough for a young LGBTQ+ person coming to terms with their identity. “The last thing you need in your life are politicians trying to score political points by making things worse for you,” he said.

Offering a hopeful message, Buttigieg concluded, “We’re gonna stand together, whether it’s Pride or just on any given day and say ‘No, we’re going to expand, not withdraw, the freedoms and equalities we won in this country, and we’re going to build on them.’”

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