It seems Pete Buttigieg has an unlikely ally in a Democratic competitor.
The openly gay South Bend Mayor knew he had an uphill battle when he announced his bid to run in the 2020 presidential election, but nothing could discourage the relatively unknown Democratic candidate from running.
He quickly proved to have a foothold in the race as his popularity spiked and ably demonstrated he could hold his own in shutting down anti-gay hecklers.
According to CNN reporter DJ Judd, Buttigieg was interrupted on at least four occasions while speaking at the Dallas County Democratic Party dinner on Friday.
"One yelled 'Marriage is between a man and a woman!' Another yelled 'Repent!"
Pete Buttigieg has been interrupted four times here in Dallas by protesters. One yelled “Marriage is between a man… https://t.co/4p9aHs7SUz— DJ Judd (@DJ Judd) 1556930876
Buttigieg, who married his husband Chasten last June, held his own without escalating the tension and reminded the crowd of his time serving in the U.S. Navy Reserves for seven months in Afghanistan.
The 37-year-old mayor responded:
"...I packed my bags for Afghanistan, to defend that man's freedom of speech..."
Buttigieg is also a known Episcopalian and responded to one of the interruptions by quoting from a passage of scripture.
"I'm just thinking of that scripture that says bless and do not curse."
@HI4Pete @PeteButtigieg They’re giving him an opportunity to shine even brighter against their darkness.— MJ🌻 (@MJ🌻) 1556930966
Now, former Texas representative Beto O'Rourke came to Buttigieg's defense and told haters to back off with their hateful attacks.
"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."
Texans don’t stand for this kind of homophobia and hatred. Mayor Pete, we are grateful you came to Texas and hope t… https://t.co/0omSyALy7d— Beto O'Rourke (@Beto O'Rourke) 1556941962
During his campaign in Iowa, O'Rourke explained why he defended his political rival.
O'Rourke, who unsuccessfully ran for the Texas Senate against Republican senator Ted Cruz, told reporters on Saturday:
"I'm a proud American, I'm a proud Texan, and the hatred directed towards Pete Buttigieg last night was not reflective or representative of my state or of this country, so I wanted to call it out immediately, first and foremost."
@BetoORourke talks about defending @PeteButtigieg after anti-gay hecklers interrupted his Dallas rally. “The hatre… https://t.co/29ylXhdgFF— Briana K. Stewart (@Briana K. Stewart) 1557016105
Despite being dual contenders for the Democratic nomination, O'Rourke was praised for his support of Buttigieg.
@cmclymer @BetoORourke This is how we have to play it, Dems. Robust debate, but ultimately stand together to defeat… https://t.co/D0rGcqi2Wg— 🏳️🌈 Jeff McKown 🏳️🌈 (@🏳️🌈 Jeff McKown 🏳️🌈) 1556955951
@BetoORourke Thank you, Beto for having Mayor Pete’s back. Both of you are good guys!— Barbara Malmet (@Barbara Malmet) 1556972613
It's going to be a tough call to make in the crowded field of running Democrats.
@architects4pete @TheBetoPlace @BetoORourke This makes me happy. I’m not sure who I’m gonna vote for yet. Pete and… https://t.co/n8mU9wCaYX— El Dei (@El Dei) 1556953234
@BetoORourke I’m a huge supporter of you both. Thanks for the amazing words and attitude. Love it! ❤️❤️❤️ #SameTeam 🇺🇸— Kim (@Kim) 1556942349
@BrianaKStewart @BetoORourke @PeteButtigieg I love all of these candidates...Pete is my guy but I am so energized b… https://t.co/CFCxJHeGej— Lori Davis 🐝 ✈️ (@Lori Davis 🐝 ✈️) 1557078834
The attending crowd at Friday's dinner chanted "Pete!" to drown out the protesters as they were escorted from the room. But the interruptions were not a first for Mayor Pete.
Last month at a campaign rally in Iowa, Buttigieg faced religious anti-gay protesters by members of a group led by Randall Terry, an anti-gay and anti-abortion advocate.
After they chanted "Sodom and Gomorrah," Buttigieg said, "The good news is, the condition of my soul is in the hands of God, but the Iowa caucuses are up to you."
On Saturday, O'Rourke continued speaking out against hatred.
"I think we have to set the example. We can't just call out intolerance and hatred, we have to show that we don't just tolerate one another, we embrace one another."
"We're stronger when we are together."
That's how we run a good, clean race! We hope these two continue to be allies as we try to pick the 2020 Democratic candidate.