Democratic presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg spoke about religious freedom and how his Christian faith has made his marriage to his husband stronger at a CNN-hosted town hall focused on LGBT issues.
ANDREW BEAUDOIN, AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you, Mayor Pete. Thanks for being here tonight. As you know, in 27 states, including my state of Florida, LGBTQ people can be denied service in restaurants and other public spaces based on who they love or who they're perceived to love. Restaurant owners in these states can deny service based on so-called religious liberty. As a Christian, can you point to any teachings in faith which state things like thou shalt not serve the gays meatloaf in diner or other religious verse which provides instruction to the faithful to deny service, housing, or other services to LGBTQ people?
BUTTIGIEG: What a great question. And without telling others how to worship, the Christian tradition that I belong to instructs me to identify with the marginalized and to recognize that the greatest thing that any of us has to offer is love.
Religious liberty is an important principle in this country, and we honor that. It's also the case that any freedom that we honor in this country has limits when it comes to harming other people. We say that the right to free speech does not include the right to yell "fire" in a crowded theater. A famous justice said my right to swing my fists ends where somebody else's nose begins. And the right to religious freedom ends where religion is being used as an excuse to harm other people.
I also have to say -- and I guess I'm speaking personally because, again, as a candidate, I know it's my obligation to speak to people of any religion and no religion equally -- but I have to say, when religion is used in that way, to me, it makes God smaller. It to me is an insult not only to us as LGBTQ people, but I think it's an insult to faith to believe that it could be used to hurt people in that way.
COOPER: I want to follow up on that. You sort of had an exchange with Vice President Mike Pence. You said, if I've got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator. Do you believe God made you gay?
BUTTIGIEG: Well, the decision was definitely made way above my pay grade.
And if you belong to the Christian tradition that I belong to, then you believe that God loves you, and you look around and you notice that you're gay, and those two things exist at the same time.
And I would also say that nothing has made me feel more connected, more able to be true however imperfectly to my faith than the experience of putting myself second, that came with committing my life to my husband, Chasten.
And I really feel that that marriage moved me closer to God. And I wish the VP could understand that.