Buttigieg on Pence: 'I'm not critical of his faith, I'm critical of bad policies'

Democratic 2020 White House hopeful and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegButtigieg defends Kaepernick, NFL players who kneel during national anthem Journalism is now opinion-based — not news-based Buttiegieg backs NFL players' right to protest during anthem: I 'put my life on the line to defend' that MORE on Friday hit back at Vice President Pence in their ongoing dispute over religion and anti-gay discrimination.

Pence, the former Indiana governor, and Buttigieg have gone back-and-forth in recent days over Buttigieg’s criticism of Pence’s stance on LGBTQ rights.

Speaking to Ellen DeGeneres on Friday, Buttigieg, who is openly gay, said: “I’m not critical of his faith, I’m critical of bad policies.”

“I don’t have a problem with religion, I’m religious, too,” he added. "I have a problem with religion being used as a justification to harm people, especially in the LGBTQ community.”

Earlier this week, Buttigieg took aim Pence while speaking at the LGBTQ Victory Fund's annual brunch.

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"My marriage to Chasten has made me a better man. And yes, Mr. Vice President, it has moved me closer to God," he said.

"Speaking only for myself, I can tell you that if me being gay was a choice, it was a choice that was made far, far above my pay grade," Buttigieg added in his speech. “That’s the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand. If you’ve got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.”

Pence and his wife, Karen, both say that Buttigieg was unfairly taking aim at Pence’s religious faith and making critical comments in order to gain political clout.

“He said some things that are critical of my Christian faith and about me personally. And he knows better. He knows me,” Pence said in an interview this week.

Buttigieg added Friday that he is “not interested in feuding” with Pence, but that the vice president’s political stance on gay rights is harmful to many Americans.

“So many people, even today, feel like they don’t belong,” Buttigieg said. “You can get fired in so many parts of this country, just for who you are, and that’s got to change.”

“I’m not interested in feuding with the vice president, but if he wanted to clear this up, he could come out today and say he’s changed his mind, that it shouldn’t be legal to discriminate against anybody in this country for who they are. That’s all.”

Pence’s office has pushed back on Buttigieg’s comments, and shared Pence’s comments in support of Buttigieg after the mayor came out in 2015.

“I hold Mayor Buttigieg in the highest personal regard. I see him as a dedicated public servant and a patriot,” Pence said at the time.

The vice president is viewed by LGBTQ groups and advocates as a top adversary of gay rights, based on his opposition to same-sex marriage and other policies when he was the Indiana governor and a member of Congress.