INDIANAPOLIS — The state’s most prominent gay elected official is condemning Republican U.S. Senate candidate Todd Young for his past support of policies aimed at excluding homosexuals from the nation’s military.
Democratic South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a Navy veteran who announced last year that he is gay, said Tuesday that Young’s support for the federal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law — which mandated gay service members conceal their sexual orientation to remain in the military — should make Hoosiers think twice about promoting Young to the Senate.
“Congressman Young was on the wrong side of history,” Buttigieg said. “He was comfortable telling people like me, and many brave men and women that I’ve served with, that they didn’t have a place in the military.”
Buttigieg and House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath, an Army veteran from Michigan City, said as Young campaigns across Indiana touting his experience as a Marine, Hoosiers need to know that Young stood against providing all Americans the same opportunity to serve their country.
“He’s part of a school of thought that believes if you keep our LGBT citizens on the sidelines that you will win votes,” Pelath said.
“That’s certainly not one that we want to elevate to be the representative of our entire state, particularly at a time when we’re still suffering the aftereffects of RFRA.”
In 2015, Indiana briefly was subject to business boycotts after Gov. Mike Pence, the Republican vice presidential nominee, signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act which many Hoosiers believed, prior to its revision, licensed discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.
Young spokesman Jay Kenworthy said Young supported “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as a U.S. House candidate in 2010, because military leaders claimed repealing it would harm morale and readiness.
“He is now convinced it has not, and he does not object to the current policy,” Kenworthy said.
Young’s Democratic opponent, former U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, voted in favor of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2011.