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Election 2020

Erick Erickson, it’s time to get out of Pete Buttigieg’s bedroom

The Daily Beast

August 2, 2019

Erick Erickson seems creepily focused on Pete Buttigieg’s sexuality, and alleged hypocrisy. He would do better to take in Buttigieg’s message about Christian behavior and ethics.

Erick Erickson really doesn’t like that presidential primary candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg is gay, and refuses to “repent” for his sin of having gay sex.

Erickson has much to say about it, an exhausting amount. For all that they profess their disgust about it, isn’t it strange, the amount of time anti-gay folks like to spend obsessing about the sex gay people have?

The conservative blogger, radio host, and former CNN commentator was back on his anti-gay, anti-Buttigieg crusade again Wednesday in a column on his blog Resurgent, where he also made the startling claim that Buttigieg has less humility than that well-known trepidatious wallflower President Trump.

Noting that Trump “has said more than once he has never felt the need to repent for anything,” and why this should lead evangelicals to question their cheering “everything he does,” Erickson added: “Pete Buttigieg is a practicing homosexual who willfully refuses to recognize Holy Scripture identifies that as a sin.”

On Friday, Erickson will be joined by Vice President Mike Pence on stage at the Resurgent Gathering in Atlanta, for a conversation “about the Trump administration’s policies and plans for a second term.” Whether Buttigieg and LGBT-related matters will be raised remains to be seen.

According to my colleague Adam Rawnsley, Erickson has written at least 19 tweets referencing Buttigieg since April—it’s hard to tell how many precisely because he has deleted his recent Twitter history.

On Resurgent Erickson has written six times about Buttigieg since April, with five columns written on April 8 and April 9, and the sixth this week. (He has written about Joe Biden seven times.)

The tweets, columns, and condemnation suggest Erickson is truly vexed not just by Buttigieg and his sexuality, but also furious that he invokes his own faith when challenging Trump and his supporters.

Buttigieg’s resonant faith message is to remind fellow Christians what the meaning of that faith is in terms of their duty to treat fellow humans decently. What really rankles Erickson, and others like him, is that it is a gay man doing the truth-telling.

When it comes to homosexuality, evangelical Christians like Erickson hate gay sex (which they seem bizarrely focused on), and like the sinner to know their place. Buttigieg is a total mind-scramble for them: out, proud, partnered, married, and using his own Christian faith to call out faith-based prejudice, and to question evangelicals’ support of Trump.

This week, Erickson said Trump was different from Buttigieg in that he “does not lecture Christians about their faith and Buttigieg has made it a central part of his campaign.”

Erickson also tweeted about it, in case we hadn’t heard: “Trump has said he has never felt the need to repent. Buttigieg doesn’t feel the need to repent of his sexual sins. Between them, only Trump possesses the humility to not lecture Christians about their faith given his unrepentant state.”

Erickson also linked to a clip from the first Democratic debate this week, where Buttigieg said: “The minimum wage is just too low. And so-called conservative Christian senators right now in the Senate are blocking a bill to raise the minimum wage when scripture says that ‘Whoever oppresses the poor taunts their maker.’”

Cue more Erickson pique: “Hey Mayor Pete, you know what else scripture says?” he tweeted. If this wasn’t yet another tired yowl about sinful gay sex, maybe Erickson could enlighten us otherwise.

The April flurry of homophobic spite came after Buttigieg had spoken about the anti-LGBT Pence: “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.”

Buttigieg had also queried evangelicals’ support of the president. “It’s something that really frustrates me because the hypocrisy is unbelievable,” he told NBC’s Meet the Press on April 7. “Here you have somebody who not only acts in a way that is not consistent with anything that I hear in scripture in church.”

On April 8, all this seems to have made Erickson’s head start spinning wildly. He accused Buttigieg of hypocrisy, because apparently as a gay man, he had no business lecturing anyone else about Christian anything.

Or as Erickson put it: “Buttigieg wants to use the social obligations as Christians against the President, but wants to avoid any implication on the personal obligations of Christians in terms of clear Biblical sexual ethics.”

On the same day, under the drily disingenuous headline,“I Actually Wasn’t Going To Say This Because I’ve Offended Enough People Today, But…”, Erickson opined: “No sin is immutable. Buttigieg has decided his sin is and, in trying to reconcile his faith to his sexuality, has departed from orthodoxy in determining his sin is therefore not sin despite the very plain and clear teachings of scripture.”

And then, in a third column in one day, he puzzlingly accused Buttigieg of “trying to have it both ways” around abortion, and refugees, and the poor.

On the same day—April 8 seems to have been a really big bad gay day in Erickson-ville, our embattled protagonist buffeted by rainbow flags—in a now-deleted tweet, Erickson began defending poor defenseless Pence. “Mike Pence has said nothing about Buttigieg. Pence lives rent free in the man’s head. His willingness to use Pence as the basis for his unprovoked attacks on orthodox Christianity suggests Buttigieg is not really the Christian he claims to be.”

Mike Pence’s animus towards LGBT people is well-documented. Buttigieg wasn’t attacking his faith; he was questioning Pence’s use of that faith to rationalize prejudice and enact harmful laws against LGBT people.

In his anti-LGBT prejudice, Pence, Buttigieg said, was also challenging God.

Erickson wasn’t done that day. “I mean if Buttigieg thinks evangelicals should be supporting him instead of Trump, he fundamentally does not understand the roots of Christianity. But then he is an Episcopalian, so he might not actually understand Christianity more than superficially.”

For Erickson, being Episcopalian seems to count as Christianity lite, and as such is another useful weapon to attack Buttigieg with.

When Buttigieg said, “The Vice President is entitled to his religious beliefs. My problem is when those religious beliefs are used as an excuse to harm other people,” Erickson responded via Twitter: “Declining to bake a cake for a wedding isn’t harming anyone, particularly when the business will bake the same person anything else.”

On that basis, presumably, Erickson would be fine about cake shops, hotels, whoever, refusing service to straight people, just because they feel like it. So, any business that wants to refuse service to Erick Erickson, go ahead—he supports your right to do so, and he’s happy to buy whatever it is he needs someplace else.

On April 9, Erickson wrote a column, his fourth in two days about Buttigieg, accusing him of being intolerant about Mike Pence’s “faithful” Christianity. “Buttigieg is just another in a long line of Democrats who are willing to punish Christians for living out their faith,” Erickson concluded.

No, people who object to “religious liberty” being used as a battering ram against LGBT people are doing so because it is precisely that: It uses faith to blanket-justify discrimination. It uses faith to exclude and demean people. “Religious liberty” is an abuse of good faith.

On the same day, in his fifth column in two days about Buttigieg, Erickson wrote in response to a religion-based inquiry from my colleague Scott Bixby (who went on to write this piece): “Buttigieg attacks the President for not governing as a moral person on one hand and on the other claims we cannot govern morally when it comes to abortion. He has married another man, which runs contrary to scripture, and he not only thinks it is not sin, but thinks God made him that way, all of which is contrary to Christian orthodoxy.”

Again, all that Erickson has are mythical Bible passages—there are none about marriage equality—and poisonous, personal insults about Buttigieg’s sexuality and beliefs. Cheap, ungodly insults at that.

“Opposition to Buttigieg should not be about his religion or his sexuality,” Erickson wrote (how kind and reasonable—even though that is what he had been relentlessly invoking himself!), “but should be because he masks his far left positions behind a smile.”

Another spurious insult. Of all the candidates, Buttigieg, whether you agree with him or not, states his views with sober clarity.

On July 27, Erickson tweeted a video clip and article from The Hill, in which Buttigieg opined, utterly calmly: “My generation saw this country elect its first black president and then turn around and elect a racist to the White House and we ought to call that what it is.”

Erickson’s tweet read: “Notice how Butter Judge is getting more heated in his rhetoric as he starts getting left behind in the polls.” There is nothing “heated” about Buttigieg’s delivery in the clip; quite the opposite.

For many years, and now in the Trump administration with Pence at their vanguard, evangelical Christians have sought to influence anti-LGBT law-making.

The Trump administration has, as The Daily Beast has reported, been very receptive to them—President Trump wants the evangelical vote, and for him LGBT people and rights are necessary casualties in securing it.

Trump and Pence are fully signed up to the “religious liberty” agenda, which seeks to deny LGBT rights and equality via the weird notion that by according LGBT people equal access in the buying of wedding cakes and other goods and services, this somehow counts as persecution against anti-LGBT Christians who should have every right—by dint of their faith—to discriminate against LGBT people.

What seems to upset Erickson and his ilk is that a gay man of faith is calling them out on these hypocritical perversions of faith. And Buttigieg is using his own faith and his beliefs to call them out. Rarely are religious bigots challenged so squarely on their own turf by someone they’re usually so comfortable in condemning.

If they bothered listening to Buttigieg, they would realize that he—with an impressive amount of patience and open-heartedness, given the bigotry he has faced from the likes of Erickson—was reminding them what the true meaning of faith and Christianity is.

Possibly, this is the first salvo in a wider Republican Party return to the old dirty playbook of using someone’s sexuality against them. But sadly for Erickson and Co., Buttigieg is open not just about who he is but also who he loves. Indeed this openness has been questioned by some LGBT people, who have wondered if Buttigieg is “gay enough.”

Perhaps those critics of Buttigieg, when they read the words of authors like Erickson, will realize that now is not the time to fight over slices of liberal-piety cake. The more immediate bogeyman is, sadly, an old and all-too-familiar one: pure and simple prejudice. Pete Buttigieg is the target of those who seek to hurt people, to diminish them, to encourage people not to vote for them, because they are gay. That’s it. This hoary, dusty relic is one apparently we must confront again.

You may not want to vote for Buttigieg, you may disagree with him about his policies, you may wish he was “gayer” on and off the debate stage. But he is also a gay man in public life having to put up with crude, homophobic attacks. Hopefully that is “gay enough” to count as a reason to speak up for him—alongside common decency.