No apology from Pence after 'homophobic joke,' Chasten Buttigieg says

"I don't think he's practicing what he preaches here," he said on "The View."

March 16, 2023, 10:07 PM

Chasten Buttigieg, author and the husband of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, told co-hosts of ABC's "The View" on Thursday that he has not heard from former Vice President Mike Pence since Pence made what the White House called a "homophobic joke" aimed at his family over the weekend.

Asked by co-host Sunny Hostin if he's heard anything from Pence, or if expects to, Chasten Buttigieg quickly said, "No."

"No, and I think it's not 'woke,' you know, to say that something is homophobic or misogynistic. Doesn't make you woke. It doesn't make you a snowflake to tell someone they made a mistake," he said, defending his husband for taking parental leave.

Chasten Buttigieg appears on ABC's "The View," March 16, 2023.
ABC News

"I know we all struggle to find a balance between work and family life. I've never seen someone work harder than my husband to find that balance, but I think Republican or Democrat, we can all agree when your child -- our prematurely born child -- is barely five pounds, when your kid is connected to a ventilator, you don't want to be anywhere but by their bedside," he said.

Pence, headlining at the annual and typically comedic Gridiron Club dinner in Washington for journalists and politicians, mocked Buttigieg for taking parental leave after the birth of his adopted twins, while he said Americans faced issues with air travel.

"He took two months 'maternity' leave whereupon thousands of travelers were stranded in airports, the air traffic system shut down, and airplanes nearly collided on our runways. Pete is the only person in human history to have a child and everyone else gets postpartum depression," Pence said, according to reporters present.

The Buttigiegs' twins, now 18 months, were born prematurely, developed Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection (RSV) and one was hospitalized and put on a ventilator -- a "terrifying" experience that the couple documented on Medium and a point Chasten Buttigieg raised in a tweet aimed at Pence.

"I spoke up because 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 towards my family, and I don't think anyone else would, especially when you bring a very small, medically-fragile child into it," he said.

Chasten Buttigieg also said Pence's comments were "part of a much bigger trend attacking families."

"The thing about what he said is it flies in the face of what he says he is. He says he's a family values Republican. So I don't think he's practicing what he preaches here," he said.

"Someone wrote this, and he checked it and purposely said maternity leave rather than paternity leave -- but also, it's a bigger conversation about the work that women do in families -- taking a swipe at all women and all families and expecting that women would stay home and raise children is a misogynistic view, especially from a man who said just last year that we should be supporting more people that adopt," he added.

Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks with reporters following a roundtable discussion on police reform, March 2, 2023, in North Charleston, S.C.
Meg Kinnard/AP

ABC News' Gio Benitez asked the transportation secretary himself on Monday afternoon if he thought Pence owed him an apology, to which he responded, "I'll let others speak to that."

"It's a strange thing to me because the last time I saw him, he asked me about my kids like a normal person would. I guess, you know, at a political event in white tie, it's a little different," Pete Buttigieg said.

Marc Short, Pence's former chief of staff and co-chair of an advocacy group Pence founded, called the response from the White House "faux outrage."

"The White House would be wise to focus less on placating the woke police and focus more on bank failures, planes nearly colliding in mid-air, train derailments, and the continued supply chain crisis," Short said in an earlier statement.

In comments Thursday night, reported by The Associated Press, Pence defended his comments, telling reporters in New Hampshire: "The Gridiron Dinner is a roast. I had a lot of jokes directed to me, and I directed a lot of jokes to Republicans and Democrats. The only thing I can figure is Pete Buttigieg not only can't do his job, but he can't take a joke."

The conversation on "The View" Thursday turned to the significance of paid parental leave, which is not required by federal law in the U.S.

Pete Buttigieg (r) and husband Chasten announced the expansion of their family with the arrivals of babies Penelope Rose and Joseph August via Twitter, Sept. 4, 2021.

"Everyone should have paid family leave, for both spouses, it's so important," Chasten Buttigieg said. "There's nothing weak about that work. It's the hardest work you'll ever do in your life."

Pete Buttigieg also told co-hosts of "The View" in October 2021 that "maybe some good came out of" the attacks he's faced because, he said, "It's helped us have a conversation about parental leave."

"Every American ought to be able to get paid parental leave. That's something that the president believes in and has proposed. It's something I believe," he added at the time.

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