Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay U.S. presidential candidate, was repeatedly heckled by homophobic protesters during an event Friday evening in Dallas, Texas.
Protesters interrupted a speech by Mr. Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, five times in 10 minutes during a fundraising dinner hosted by Dallas County Democrats.
Video shared by attendees showed protesters led by Randall Terry, a longtime anti-abortion activist opposed to same-sex marriage, shouting at Mr. Buttigieg while being ejected from the event.
“Abortion is murder,” yelled Mr. Terry. “Remember Sodom and Gomorrah!”
Mr. Buttigieg spoke for around 25 minutes in spite of the disruption, at times responding to the interruptions by evoking his Christian faith and service in the Navy Reserves.
“I’m just thinking of that scripture that says bless and do not curse,” he said after a third person stopped his speech.
Reacting minutes later to the fifth interruption, Mr. Buttigieg said he was reminded of “packing my bags for Afghanistan for the purpose of defending that gentleman’s freedom of speech.”
“Not to put too fine a point on it, but I believe at the time our president was focused on season seven of The Celebrity Apprentice,” joked Mr. Buttigieg.
Mr. Buttigieg spoke at the Dallas fundraiser as fellow 2020 presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke, a former congressman for Texas, addressed supporters in nearby Fort Worth.
Mr. O’Rourke, an El Paso native, has since reached out on Twitter to share his support for both Mr. Buttigieg and his husband.
“Texans don’t stand for this kind of homophobia and hatred. Mayor Pete, we are grateful you came to Texas and hope to see you and Chasten back again soon,” Mr. O’Rourke tweeted.
The founder of the Operation Rescue anti-abortion group, Mr. Terry previously led protests held last month at campaign events held by Mr. Buttigieg in Iowa.
“He’s the poster-boy for the homosexual movement,” Mr. Terry said in an interview on the Rick Roberts radio Show prior to disrupting Mr. Buttigieg’s speech. “He as a 37-year-old vet, speaks multiple languages, he’s the mayor of South Bend, he’s handsome, he embodies what they have been looking for. Which is to say, hey, homosexual behavior is normal.”
“Homosexual marriage is a joke. It’s an evil. It’s a non-starter. It’s a fallacy. There is no such thing,” he continued, adding that Mr. Buttigieg’s support of same-sex marriage makes him the “most dangerous man in America for children.”
Mr. Buttigieg and Mr. O’Rourke are among more than 20 candidates currently seeking the Democratic nominating to run in 2020 against President Trump. Recent polling has placed former Vice President Joe Biden as an early favorite among Democrats a year-and-a-half until Election Day.