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CNN screenshot of Pete Buttigieg; C-SPAN screenshot of Vicky Hartzler giving speech on House floor
CNN; C-SPAN

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg offered a powerful response to Missouri Republican Representative Vicky Hartzler, who went viral after she cried as she begged her Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives to vote against the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA) to protect Americans "who believe in the true meaning of marriage."

The House ultimately approved the legislation, which guarantees federal recognition of any marriage between two people if it was valid in the state where they were married. It also requires states to accept the legitimacy of a valid marriage performed elsewhere but does not require any state to issue a marriage license contrary to its own laws.

A tearful Hartzler said the "misguided" legislation is an affront to "religious liberty" and "religious faith."

You can hear what she said in the video below.

When asked for his reaction by CNN personality Don Lemon, the openly gay Buttigieg said he wishes Hartzler "could see the family life" that his husband, educator and activist Chasten Buttigieg, wrote about in a recent post on Medium, offering a glimpse into a home life that is really not all that different from heterosexual couples.

You can hear what Buttigieg said in the video below.

Buttigieg said:

“I just wonder if she could see the family life that Chasten wrote about so movingly in that piece on Medium. And that, again, is the most important experience in my day."
"If you believe in family, if you believe in kindness, if you believe in love, then you want to see what goes on in millions of families, including mine, where the love and the institutional support of marriage that binds me and Chasten together, including through hard times and, you know, a tug of war over who’s going to do the dishes when we’re both exhausted, and you know what to do when we run out of, you know, run out of eggs or those puffs that you can put into a little cup that have a remarkable kind of bribery effect on getting the kids to settle down and quiet down when they’re in the stroller, the minivan.”

When Lemon ribbed Buttigieg over driving a minivan—the favorite and practical mode of transportation for many parents—Buttigieg joked that he "never thought [he] would be a minivan person" but it's just another way getting married and having children "changes you."

It was a simple, humanizing anecdote, and many praised Buttigieg for his eloquence.


Hartzler is one of the most virulently anti-LGBTQ+ members of Congress and has openly opposed same-sex marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships throughout her political career.

In 2019, Hartzler wrote an editorial in which she rejected the Equality Act, which, if passed, would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (including titles II, III, IV, VI, VII, and IX) to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, federally funded programs, credit and jury service.

That same year, she sponsored an event by proponents of conversion therapy, which is defined as any attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. The controversial practice has been rejected by all major medical and psychological organizations.

It is often described as "promoting healthy sexuality" or "sexual reorientation efforts" in right-wing circles as conversion therapy has come under further scrutiny.

Hartzler's words struck a personal chord with her own nephew, a gay man who went viral after he made a TikTok video informing his aunt religious institutions aren't being persecuted just because marriage equality makes it possible for people she hates to get married.