Pete Buttigieg delivers epic answer when asked if 'religious liberty' should be used to deny service to LGBTQ people
Pete Buttigieg in Town Hall (Screen Capture)

"Any freedom that we honor in this country has limits when it comes to harming other people.”

Pete Buttigieg has the definitive answer to those who think their religious liberty takes priority over equality for LGBTQ people in America.


Buttigieg, one of nine top Democratic presidential candidates to participate in Thursday evening's HRC Equality Town Hall on CNN, was asked if he thinks people should be able to deny service to LGBTQ people based on so-called religious liberty.

Or, as business owner and audience member Andrew Beaudoin asked, “As a Christian, can you point to any teachings in faith which state things like, ‘Thou shalt not serve the gays meatloaf in diner?’”

The South Bend, Indiana mayor who is currently ranked in fourth place, offered this balanced response.

“Without telling others how to worship, the Christian tradition that I belong to instructs me to identify with the marginalized and to recognize that the greatest thing that any of us has to offer is love,” Buttigieg said. “Religious liberty is an important principle in this country, and we honor that. It’s also the case that any freedom that we honor in this country has limits when it comes to harming other people.”

"We say that the right to free speech does not include the right to yell 'fire' in a crowded theater."

"A famous justice once said, 'My right to swing my fist ends where somebody else's nose begins.' And the right to religious freedom ends where religion is being used as an excuse to harm other people," Buttigieg said strongly, to great applause.

"When religion is used in that way, to me, it makes God smaller," the South Bend mayor added.

He went on to say that using religion to harm or discriminate against LGBTQ people is "an insult, not only to us as  LGBTQ people, but I think it’s an insult to faith, to believe that it could be used to hurt people in that way."

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