Buttigieg praises BYU valedictorian who came out as gay during commencement

South Bend, Ind., Mayor and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegScaled-back Pride Month poses challenges for fundraising, outreach Biden hopes to pick VP by Aug. 1 It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE on Monday praised the Brigham Young University (BYU) valedictorian who came out as gay during his commencement speech, saying that the act would make it easier for others. 

“I know that kid is going to make it easier for somebody else,” Buttigieg, the only openly gay Democrat running for president, told BuzzFeed News. “Imagine if you’re a terrified closeted kid in that audience at BYU and what it does for you to have that student lead that way.”

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Buttigieg added that he looked forward to calling Matt Easton, a political science student who called himself a proud “gay son of God” midway through the commencement ceremony speech this past weekend. 

“It was in these quiet moments of pain and confusion that I felt another triumph, that of coming to terms, not with who I thought I should be, but who the Lord has made me,” Easton said during the speech. “As such, I stand before my family, friends and graduating class today to say that I am proud to be a gay son of God.”

Easton said later that coming out was “a phenomenal feeling, and it is a victory for me in and of itself.”

The speech came the same month that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which owns the university, reversed its policy that considered married gay couples “apostates” and barring their children from baptism in most cases.

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Buttigieg, who came out as gay in an op-ed in 2015, told BuzzFeed that the idea that his decision helped others is “incredibly moving to think about.”

Buttigieg has been increasingly open about his sexuality and his faith in the months since creating an exploratory committee for president. He said earlier this month that his marriage moved him “closer to God” while criticizing Vice President Pence’s religious views. 

He added in the interview with BuzzFeed that his ability to run for a president is because “people before me had to assert, sometimes militantly, that they shouldn’t be suppressed.”

“Otherwise there’s no oxygen for somebody like me to do something like this and possibly help someone like that,” he said. 

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