The White House recently urged Mike Pence to apologize for his comment regarding Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s “maternity leave.”
“The former vice president’s homophobic joke about Secretary Buttigieg was offensive and inappropriate, all the more so because he treated women suffering from postpartum depression as a punchline,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. “He should apologize to women and LGBTQ people, who are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect.”
Pence, who is known to have been a bit biased against gays in the past, delivered the quip Saturday during the Gridiron Club dinner in DC, a gathering of top journalists and political dignitaries. And while the event traditionally features them making jokes about each other, Pence’s jab wasn’t well-taken.
The ex-vice president joked that if President Biden chooses not to stand for re-election then Pete Buttigieg, ‘an old friend of mine’, could be the one to take over.
“When Pete’s two children were born, he took two months maternity leave, whereupon thousands of travelers were stranded in airports, the air traffic system shut down, airplanes nearly collided in midair,” Pence said. “I mean, Pete Buttigieg is the only person in human history to have a child and all the rest of us get postpartum depression.”
Buttigieg, a former mayor of South Bend, Indiana during Pence’s tenure as governor of the state, and his husband have adopted twins. After announcing his two-month paternity leave to be there for his newborn son and daughter, Buttigieg faced very harsh criticism from conservative pundits.
“An honest question for you, Mike Pence, after your attempted joke this weekend. If your grandchild was born prematurely and placed on a ventilator at two months old – their tiny fingers wrapped around yours as the monitors beep in the background – where would you be?” Chasten Buttigieg tweeted Monday afternoon.
The usually mild-mannered Pence also took jibes at President Biden and Donald Trump.
More on this story from CNN.