Pence draws criticism for paternity leave joke about Buttigieg

Mike Pence's joke about Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is being called "homophobic."
Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at a luncheon.
Posted at 2:45 PM, Mar 14, 2023

Chasten Buttigieg is coming to the defense of his husband, Pete, after learning former Vice President Mike Pence joked about the transportation secretary taking time off following the birth of the couple's twins. 

"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 at the annual Gridiron Club dinner. "I mean, Pete Buttigieg is the only person in human history to have a child and all the rest of us get postpartum depression."

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Chasten shared a picture of Pete holding one of the couple's children in the hospital. 

"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 asked.

The White House called for Pence to apologize for his comment, calling it homophobic. Pence notably used the term "maternity leave" in his joke, which is typically used to describe a mother taking time off to care for her newborn. "Paternity leave" is more commonly used for husbands or partners taking time off to care for the baby. 

Marc Short, Pence's former chief of staff, came to the defense of his former boss. 

"The Biden administration should spare America the faux outrage," he said.

In a TV interview, Pete Buttigieg said it's not for him to decide whether Pence owes him an apology, adding he has more important things to worry about. However, he noted that the last time he saw Pence, he asked about the twins. 

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