Mike Pence defended his controversial “maternity leave” quip directed at Pete Buttigieg, saying the transportation secretary “can’t take a joke,” even after the White House said the former vice president should apologize for his “homophobic” remarks.
What Happened: Pence made his remarks at the Gridiron Dinner for politicians and journalists over the weekend, saying Buttigieg took “maternity leave” after he and his husband, Chasten, adopted newborn twins.
“Pete is the only person in human history to have a child and everyone else gets postpartum depression,” he said at the Saturday dinner.
Buttigieg’s husband, appearing on ABC News on Thursday, said he had not heard from Pence since the event but would continue to hold him accountable for his words.
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Calling Pence’s remarks “part of a much bigger trend attacking families,” Chasten said he spoke up “because we all have an obligation to hold people accountable for when they say something wrong, especially when it’s misogynistic, especially when it’s homophobic.”
Why It Matters: The White House on Monday urged Pence to apologize for his comments, calling them “offensive and inappropriate, all the more so because he treated women suffering from postpartum depression as a punchline.”
“He should apologize to women and LGBTQ people, who are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
The Associated Press reported that Pence stayed by his joke.
“The Gridiron Dinner is a roast. I had a lot of jokes directed to me, and I directed a lot of jokes to Republicans and Democrats,” he said. “The only thing I can figure is Pete Buttigieg not only can’t do his job, but he can’t take a joke.”
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