Pete Buttigieg’s husband sent Mike Pence a photo of his baby in the hospital in an angry response to a “maternity leave” joke from the former vice president.
The White House has called on Mr Pence to apologize for what it called a “homophobic” joke about the transportation secretary’s decision to take paternity leave when his twins were born.
Mr Pence Pence said Mr Buttigieg, who is the first openly gay cabinet secretary, took “maternity leave” while there were aviation issues in 2021.
“Pete is the only person in human history to have a child and everyone else gets postpartum depression,” Pence said Saturday at Washington’s annual Gridiron Club dinner.
Mr Buttigieg and his husband, Chasten, adopted twins who were born prematurely and treated in hospital for weeks in 2021 with health problems.
Chasten Buttigieg tweeted a photo of his husband holding one of the babies in a hospital room and called out the Republican on Monday.
“A fair question for you, (Mike Pence), after your attempted joke this weekend,” he tweeted.
“If your grandchild was born prematurely and put on a ventilator at two months old – their little fingers wrapped around yours as the monitors beep in the background – where would you be?”
An honest question for you, @Mike_Pence, after your attempted joke this weekend. If your grandchild was born prematurely and put on a ventilator at two months old – their little fingers wrapped around yours as the monitors beep in the background – where would you be? pic.twitter.com/pCWvl8pb5N
— Chasten Buttigieg (@Chasten) March 13, 2023
And he then posted an August 2022 article written by his husband about becoming parents.
“Leaving this here for you if you want to know more about the kids you’ve been dying to use as punch lines,” Chasten tweeted.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who also attended the event, said Pence should apologize for his comments.
“The former vice president’s homophobic joke about Secretary Buttigieg was offensive and inappropriate, especially since he treated women suffering from postpartum depression as a punchline,” she said in a statement.
“He must apologize to women and LGBTQ people, who are entitled to dignity and respect.”
Pence’s former chief of staff, Marc Short, labeled the White House criticism as “phony outrage.”