Congresswoman Grace Meng Responds To Jewish Community

There are 20 declared candidates vying to be the nominee of the Democratic Party for president. In addition, former Vice President Joe Biden is expected to announce his candidacy.

There has never been a president younger than 40. No sitting mayor has ever been nominated for party candidate for president. The last president who had been a mayor later became governor of New York and was nominated when he was governor. That person was Grover Cleveland, who was president in the 19th century. A recent example of how hard it is for a mayor to be nominated is the example of Rudy Giuliani, who was known as America’s mayor due to his actions after the attack on 9/11. He was not only a former United States attorney for the southern district of New York, but the mayor of the largest city in the country.

South Bend, Indiana, has a population of 101,037 and is the 308th-largest city in the United States. Thus, it would be expected that Peter Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, would have no chance of being nominated and would be lucky to have the support of 1% of likely voters.

However, Peter Buttigieg has become the media darling and is one of the top fundraisers. His claim to fame is that he is the first person with an alternative lifestyle to run for president of the United States.

On April 7, he spoke before an LBGTQ group. He first described his struggle and said that his new lifestyle has made him come closer to G-d, and then attacked the religious community and in particular the vice president.

“If me being gay was a choice, it was a choice that was made far, far above my pay grade… And that’s the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand. That if you got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me; your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.”

He was hailed in many circles as being courageous. I was listening to Brian Williams on MSNBC who compared the speech to Obama talking about racism in America. Williams then argued that Buttigieg is well experienced. He said it with a straight face. There was no pushback by Williams about Buttigieg’s comments attacking religion and in particular VP Pence.

I am not going to address the theological fallacy of the mayor’s argument but will deal with his cheap attack on Pence and on religion. It does not take a lot of courage to attack traditional Judeo-Christian religious values and the vice president in front of a LBGTQ audience. If he had defended the right of those who disagree with his lifestyle to voice their own beliefs and defended the vice president, that would have been a profile in courage.

It was disingenuous for the mayor to attack Pence personally. In 2015, after Buttigieg had announced publicly that he was gay, Pence said, “I hold Mayor Buttigieg in the highest personal regard. I see him as a dedicated public servant and a patriot.” Pence, in response to the mayor’s comments, noted that “I worked very closely with Mayor Pete when I was governor of the state of Indiana. We had a great working relationship.”

Pence also noted, “When I was governor of Indiana, we fully implemented that decision (Supreme Court decision regarding gay marriage) into law. But… I have my Christian values; my family and I have a view of marriage that is informed by our faith, and we stand by that. But that doesn’t mean that we’re critical of anyone else who has a different point of view. And one of the great things about our country is our freedom of religion and the freedom of conscience. And we’ll continue to cherish our values, cherish our views.”

What Buttigieg is implying is it does not matter that Vice President Pence and others are following the law as it relates to LBGTQ and/or are willing to work with elected officials who are part of the LBGTQ community. They are not even allowed to have beliefs that are contrary to the beliefs of the LBGTQ community.

This is what diversity means for some in this country. Diversity is the buzz word to consider different views and lifestyles except as it relates to traditional Judeo-Christian briefs. Diversity training is now required in many fields including law. How many diversity training programs include Judeo-Christian religious beliefs in such programs?

It seems somewhat hypocritical for the mayor to place one’s orientation as a reason to vote for them while at the same time criticize those who have the contrary position.

Buttigieg’s conduct in pandering to the base by his unfair attack on the vice president and those who have traditional religious beliefs plus his age and inexperience are all good reasons why he is not qualified to be president. His orientation doesn’t matter. He is not the only declared candidate who would be a disaster if they became president. Nevertheless, I expect that anyone who attacks him will be labeled a homophobic. The LBGTQ community used to argue that they should be treated like everyone else. Now they want to be treated better than everyone else.


 Warren S. Hecht is a local attorney. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.