Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has called out right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh over his anti-gay attacks on former Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
The South Carolina senator spoke out after Limbaugh, who was recently awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, claimed on Tuesday that Pete Buttigieg kissing his husband causes “problems” for parents.
“So I saw a political ad, where Mayor Pete, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, going on and on and on and on and on, about how parents in America are struggling to explain president Trump to their children,” Limbaugh said on his radio show.
Holding up a photo of Buttigieg kissing his husband Chasten, Limbaugh continued: “So he says Trump causes problems for parents, what about that?”
He then criticized Buttigieg for “kissing his husband [in public] – which he does frequently”.
“It’s a miscalculation as to where the country is at,” Graham told The Associated Press.
“I think the country is not going to disqualify somebody because of their sexual orientation,” he added.
Asked if Limbaugh should keep his Presidential Medal of Freedom, the close Trump ally and lifelong bachelor said: “Well, my God. Free speech still exists.”
Ohio Senator Rob Portman said of Limbaugh, “He may disagree, as I do, with their policy positions, but the question is what their qualifications are, not other issues.” Portman announced his support for gay marriage in 2013 as he revealed that his son Will is gay.
“There may be reasons not to vote for Mayor Buttigieg, but that’s not one of them. This is a tolerant country,” Senator Lamar Alexander, of Tennessee, said in a statement.
Sunday, CNN’s Dana Bash asked Buttigieg to respond to the comments on State of the Union.
“Well, I love my husband. I’m faithful to my husband. On stage we usually just go for a hug, but I love him very much,” Buttigieg said. “And I’m not going to take lectures on family values from the likes of Rush Limbaugh.”
“I love my husband. I’m faithful to my husband,” @petebuttigieg responds to conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh’s recent comments. “I’m not going to take lectures on family values from the likes of Rush Limbaugh.” #CNNSOTUhttps://t.co/bOje6TVl1s pic.twitter.com/icNbNMetlw
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) February 16, 2020
And in an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Buttigieg took an opportunity to use Limbaugh’s remarks to take a direct strike at Trump.
“I’m not going to be lectured on family values from the likes of Rush Limbaugh or anybody who supports Donald J. Trump as the moral as well as political leader of the United States,” Buttigieg said.
“America has moved on, and we should have politics of belonging that welcomes everybody,” Buttigieg continued. “That’s what the American people are for. And I am saddened for what the Republican Party has become if they embrace that kind of homophobic rhetoric.”