WASHINGTON — South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg downplayed the possibility that voters might be concerned about his sexuality, arguing Sunday that being gay will not hurt his standing with socially conservative voters.
Some faith leaders have raised concerns about whether Buttigieg's sexuality could hurt his ability to gain traction, particularly among the more socially conservative black voters that make up a significant portion of the Democratic primary vote in the South.
But during a Sunday interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," Buttigieg noted that he won re-election by an overwhelming margin after he came out as gay in 2015 and said his experience combating "exclusion" helps him sympathize with a large swath of voters.
"We have an opportunity to reach into our own distinctive identities and use them to build bridges. To reach out to people different from us, knowing that anybody who has been on short end of an equation of exclusion has a way to sympathize with people who've had different experiences with exclusion in this country," he said.
"People, if you give them the chance, will evaluate you based on what you aim to do. What the results are, what the policies are. And I have every confidence that American voters, especially Democratic voters, will not discriminate when the opportunity comes up to choose the right leader for the future."
Watch the full interview from Buttigieg, who is running to be the first gay president in American history, in the video below.