Protester is hauled from Pete Buttigieg rally by Fort Dodge Mayor Matt Bemrich
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg had just stated his belief about the importance of marriage equality when his speech was interrupted by a protester from a crowd gathered at the Fort Dodge Lion’s Den Tuesday afternoon.
Minutes later, the protester, who was yelling that the openly gay Democratic presidential candidate had betrayed his baptism, was hustled out of the crowded room by Fort Dodge Mayor Matt Bemrich.
Once the crowd quieted from the disruption caused by the protester, identified as Gary Boisclair, Buttigieg said, “Coffee after church gets a little ratty sometimes.”
“My personal experience as someone who is now happily married is you aren’t free if folks think they get to tell you who you ought to marry,” Buttigieg said to a crowd of about 200 people in the Lions Den on Exposition Drive. “I think it’s a basic, personal right we ought to have.”
He announced his run for office on April 14. If elected, Buttigieg would be the first mayor to go straight to the White House.
Boisclair, of Buffalo, New York, inserted himself into the conversation by chanting “Mayor Pete, Mayor Pete.”
But the tone of the message quickly turned when Boisclair began shouting.
“You betray your baptism,” Boisclair said. “Your holy baptism.”
During his brief rant, Boisclair added, “He stands for the murder of unborn babies. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
A short time later, that protester was escorted out by Bemrich and a security guard.
Boisclair was part of a demonstration led by Randall Terry, who said he’s a pro-life and pro-family demonstrator.
The two had also disrupted a separate event held by Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker, according to Boisclair.
Boisclair said he planned to disrupt two more events today.
Before the event in Fort Dodge started, as people were walking toward the Lion’s Den, Terry used a megaphone from his parked RV to say things like, “How many of you want your kids to grow up to be homosexuals? He is a threat to our children.”
And when Buttigieg arrived, Terry could be heard shouting, “You’re a liar. You’re not for America.”
But the U.S. Navy veteran acknowledged Boisclair’s beliefs.
“We are so dug in, in such passionate ways and I respect that, too,” Buttigieg said. “That gentleman believes what he is doing is in line with the will of the creator. I view it differently. We ought to be able to view it differently.”
Buttigieg appeared to criticize how President Donald Trump handles differences in opinions.
“America’s most elegant feature is being able to accommodate such passionately different views and not budge from our values, and still come into the public space in the spirit of respect and get things done,” he said. “We don’t have that in Washington right now, do we? Even just the most basic sense of decency. The way we treat people who don’t agree with us. The way we talk about other groups. The way we blame other groups for our problems.”
He added, “What is being preached out in Washington is that any problem in your life or my life can be blamed on somebody who doesn’t love like us or somebody who doesn’t look like us or somebody who doesn’t pray like us or somebody who has a different accent than we do. And that’s not the America that I swore to protect when I went into war with that American flag on my shoulder.”
Prior to the interruption, Buttigieg said he believes government can increase the freedom Americans have.
“Our conservative friends view freedom as something that happens if you just get rid of the government, and I get that,” he said. “If you have too much government, or overbearing government. That is something that puts a lot of strain on your freedom. But if you think about it, there’s a lot of other things that can make you unfree, too. Your neighbor can make you unfree if they are acting up. Your cable company can make you unfree. I believe government done right, good government, brings us or secures us our freedom just as much as bad government gets in the way of freedom.”
Buttigieg said he believes in free health care. He advocates shifting toward a single-payer health care system, he said.
“I think that if you can’t start a small business because leaving your job means you are going to lose your health care, that means you aren’t free,” he said. “And if you can deliver health care, that makes you more free. I believe workers organizing for good conditions and good pay for a fair day’s work is freedom. And certainly being prevented from organizing constrains your freedom.”