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'God Made Me This Way': Buttigieg, BYU Student Reconcile Identity And Faith46:07
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2020 Democratic presidential candidate South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, left, and Matt Easton, a gay student who came out during a valedictorian speech at Brigham Young University. (Charlie Neibergall/AP and Rick Bowmer/AP)
2020 Democratic presidential candidate South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, left, and Matt Easton, a gay student who came out during a valedictorian speech at Brigham Young University. (Charlie Neibergall/AP and Rick Bowmer/AP)

With Meghna Chakrabarti

A presidential candidate and a Utah commencement speaker have both explained their sexuality by saying, "God made me this way." We look at faith, politics and the LGBTQ community.

Guests

Matthew Vines, founder and executive director of The Reformation Project, a nonprofit dedicated to training LGBTQ Christians and allies to revamp church teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity. Author of "God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships." (@VinesMatthew)

Kathryn Lofton, professor of religious studies, American studies, history and divinity at Yale University (@Yale). Chair of the department of religious studies.

From The Reading List

The Atlantic: "Pete Buttigieg’s Very Public Faith Is Challenging Assumptions" — "The mayor of a medium-size midwestern city, Rhodes Scholar, and war veteran who is liturgically conservative and cites Saint Augustine as one of his religious influences is running for president. He’s also a Democrat. He is criticizing the current president, a Republican, for his infidelity and lack of family values. And he’s gay.

"Sometimes politics unfolds differently than you might expect.

"What makes Pete Buttigieg an intriguing figure isn’t his political experience, which is minimal (he became mayor of South Bend, Indiana, in 2012, at age 29); or his political philosophy, with which I disagree. (He’s a progressive, while I’m a conservative who is a critic of Donald Trump and of progressivism.) It’s that Buttigieg speaks openly and easily about his Christian faith in a party that is becoming more and more secular and religiously unaffiliated, and he does so in a manner that stands in marked contrast with the evangelical leaders who support Donald Trump.

"Buttigieg is challenging the assumptions of a lot of people."

Washington Post: "‘I am proud to be a gay son of God’: Mormon valedictorian comes out in graduation speech" — "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints considers same-sex marriage to be a 'serious transgression' — and, until this spring, treated Mormons involved in these unions as apostates, subject to church disciplinary hearings that could result in their excommunication.

"So a commencement ceremony on Friday at Brigham Young University, the flagship academic institution of the Mormon Church, was an unlikely occasion for this pronouncement: 'I stand before my family, friends and graduating class today to say that I am proud to be a gay son of God.'

"The affirmation came from Matthew Easton, 24, who was being celebrated as the valedictorian in the political science department — and the graduating senior chosen to deliver remarks at the ceremony for the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences."

Associated Press: "BYU student comes out as gay in valedictorian speech" — "A student who came out as gay during a valedictorian speech at Mormon-owned Brigham Young University has drawn praise from fellow students and notable figures such as Kristin Chenoweth and the husband of Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.

"Matt Easton, 24, said Monday he hopes his decision helps ease loneliness felt by other LGBTQ students at the institution where an honor code forbids dating among members of the same sex.

"'I hope they can know they’re not alone in the ways that sometimes I’ve felt alone at BYU, to know there’s support for them and they’re not broken,' he said."

CNN: "Buttigieg to Pence: 'If you got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me — your quarrel, sir, is with my creator'" — "Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg on Sunday again took on Vice President Mike Pence — whose stances on LGBTQ issues have faced criticism from gay rights activists — saying that if Pence has 'a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me — your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.'

"Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, made the comments while speaking at the LGBTQ Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch in Washington. He reflected on his personal struggles with his sexuality, his decision to come out in 2015 and the fact that his being gay is not the result of a personal decision.

"'If me being gay was a choice, it was a choice that was made far, far above my pay grade,' Buttigieg said. 'And that's the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand. That if you got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me — your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.' "

Brian Hardzinski produced this hour for broadcast.

This program aired on May 1, 2019.

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