(CNSNews.com) - South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg identified himself as a "white cis gender gay man" at a CNN town hall on LGBTQ equality Thursday night.
CNN's Anderson Cooper, also a white gay man, asked Buttigieg two questions: "Do you believe God made you gay?" And "Is being gay a sin?"
In response to the first question -- did God make him gay -- Buttigieg said:
Well, the decision was definitely made way above my pay grade. And if you belong to the Christian tradition that I belong to, then you believe that God loves you and you look around and you notice that you're gay and those two things exist at the same time.
And I would also say that nothing has made me feel more connected, more able to be true, however imperfectly, to my faith, than the experience of putting myself second that came with committing my life to my husband, Chasten. I really feel that that marriage moved me closer to God, and I wish the VP (Mike Pence) could understand that.
Cooper told Buttigieg, "I'm sure you're confronted by people often who don't like you based on your sexual orientation, your identity, who say to you, you know, it is a sin. What do you say to that? Is being gay a sin?"
"I don't believe it is," Buttigieg said.
I also get that people reach their own understandings of their own faith. I guess where I try to reach people is that can we at least agree that whatever faith tradition or commitment they have agrees with mine that we are called to compassion. That we are called to seek out in one another what is best.
And that we are supposed to protect those who are vulnerable. And my hope is that for people -- and let's --let's recognize that this journey toward the right side of history is going to be hard, especially for somebody, maybe from an older generation who was brought up their entire life to reject just who I am and how I love.
And my goal is not to push those people right back into the arms of the religious right, but rather to call them in the name of compassion that I know everyone feels toward a greater acceptance, even if they're still trying to understand.
Buttigieg, asked about Christians denying services to LGBT people, said the Christian tradition that he belongs to "instructs me to identify with the marginalized and to recognize that the greatest thing that any of us has to offer is love.
Religious liberty is an important principle in this country, and we honor that. It's also the case that any freedom that we honor in this country has limits when it comes to harming other people.
We say that the right to free speech does not include the right to yell fire in a crowded theater. A famous justice once said my right to swing my fists ends where somebody else's nose begins, and the right to religious freedom ends where religion is being used as an excuse to harm other people.
I have to say, and I guess I'm speaking personally because, again, as a candidate, I know it's my obligation to speak to people of any religion and no religion equally, but I have to say, when religion is used in that way, to me, it makes God smaller. It to me is an insult not only to us as LGBTQ people, but I think it's an insult to faith to believe that it could be used to hurt people in that way.