"And they're saying, 'OK. How's that going to look, a 37-year-old gay guy kissing his husband on stage next to Mr. Man, Donald Trump? ... They've got to be saying that despite all the great progress and despite all the great wokeness and despite all the great ground that's been covered, America's still not ready to elect a gay guy kissing his husband on the debate stage president. They have to be saying this, don't they?"
These were the words of famed conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh on his radio show last week. The rampant homophobia of these comments isn't at all out of character for Limbaugh, who has gotten in trouble in the past for his long history of sexist, racist, and homophobic comments.
What makes this latest attack on Pete Buttigieg's sexuality special is that it's not just another horrific comment by an odious radio commentator — it's a horrific comment by someone who, less than a month ago, the president of the United States presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to.
Here we have Rush Limbaugh half-attempt to hide his own feelings by ascribing them to the higher-ups of the Democratic Party — "they" must be thinking this about Peter Buttigieg, "they" have to realize that the country isn't ready for a gay president, etc. — but it's obvious that this is Limbaugh projecting his own views. If Buttigieg's performance in Iowa and New Hampshire are anything to go by, that Democratic Party is more than ready for a gay nominee. It's Limbaugh and, he presumes, his listeners, who aren't.
For a man to go on national radio and present this skewed view of being a man — insinuating that Pete Buttigieg, a veteran, is somehow less of a man than Donald Trump by virtue of who he loves — is in itself bigotry that doesn't belong in today's society. But it's horrible nature is compounded by the fact that the president of the United States has honored the person saying it.
If the image of Rush Limbaugh with a medal around his neck weeks before he insulted a presidential candidate for their sexuality wasn't disgusting enough, Donald Trump found a way to make his acceptance of homophobia even more pronounced. Limbaugh claimed that after his comments on Buttigieg stirred controversy, the president himself called him and reminded him to "never apologize, don't ever."
There are plenty of valid reasons to critique Pete Buttigieg and his candidacy. His sexuality is not one of them.
And although this kind of bigotry was, sadly, expected, the fact that it comes with a presidential endorsement is nothing but shameful. The Presidential Medal of Freedom was meant to honor those who make this country great. Not the ones working to divide it and paint some of its inhabitants as lesser than others.
It's homophobia with a shiny, metallic seal of presidential approval. Plain and simple.