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Pete Buttigieg focus group finds his sexuality may be a ‘barrier’ for black voters

Emma Powys Maurice October 23, 2019
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg greets his husband Chasten after announcing that he will be seeking the Democratic nomination for president during a rally in the old Studebaker car factory on April 14, 2019 in South Bend, Indiana.

An internal focus group for Pete Buttigieg and his 2020 presidential campaign found that the candidate’s sexuality could be “a barrier” for many black voters.

A focus group in July questioned 24 uncommitted black Democratic voters in Columbia, South Carolina, and found that several were unhappy with Pete Buttigieg’s openness about his sexuality.

The 21-page report obtained by McClatchy revealed that “being gay was a barrier for these voters, particularly for the men who seemed deeply uncomfortable even discussing it”.

It adds: “Their preference is for his sexuality to not be front and centre.”

Although the report stated that Buttigieg’s sexuality was not a “disqualifier” for these voters, some them questioned why he even brought it up.

“I’ll go ahead and say it,” said a male participant. “I don’t like the fact that he threw out there that he lives with his husband.”

“That’s not my thing but I wouldn’t want to know that as a candidate. Too much information,” agreed one female participant under 40.

Some doubted foreign leaders would accept a gay president. “Are they going to relate to him with a husband?” a woman asked.

After three focus groups with black voters, just one participant – a woman aged over 40 – said they were considering voting for Buttigieg.

Pete Buttigieg kisses his husband after delivering a keynote address at a gala for the Human Rights Campaign (Ethan Miller/Getty)

Pete Buttigieg has always been open about his relationship with his husband, Chasten, and proudly kissed him on stage at his campaign launch.

The moment was quickly condemned by Republicans, including conservative radio host Chandelle Summer, who claimed Buttigieg had made his sexuality “a huge issue”.

She said it was “unusual for a presidential candidate” to kiss their spouse on-stage, but she was quickly corrected by another commentator who pointed out that virtually every other candidate, including Trump, had kissed their spouse at campaign rallies.

“All he did was do what many other straight couples have done. He didn’t necessarily make it an issue there,” said MSNBC anchor Kendis Gibson.

Despite concerns, recent Democratic polling indicates that Buttigieg has surged into third place in the traditionally-conservative state of Iowa.

The swing state is a key battleground for candidates hoping to prove the momentum of their campaigns. Joe Biden is in second place and Elizabeth Warren is leading.

More: 2020 presidential election, black lgbt, Chasten Buttigieg, Democratic candidates, Pete Buttigieg

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