Washington (AFP) - The gay presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg insisted his sexuality would not damage his electoral prospects Sunday, saying the United States had "moved on" as a country, after homophobic jibes by allies of Donald Trump.
The 38-year-old Democrat, who married his partner Chasten Glezman two years ago, said he would not take lectures from supporters of a man who has faced accusations ranging from rape to sleeping with a porn star.
"I am in a faithful, loving, committed marriage. I'm proud of my marriage and I'm proud of my husband and I'm not going to be lectured on family values from the likes of Rush Limbaugh or anybody who supports Donald J. Trump as the moral as well as political leader of the United States," Buttigieg told Fox News.
His comments come after veteran radio host Limbaugh told listeners last week that Trump would relish going head-to-head with a candidate who kissed his husband on stage.
"Boy can you see Trump have fun with that?" said Limbaugh, who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- the highest civilian honor in the country -- during Trump's State of the Union speech earlier this month.
Sebastian Gorka, another ultra-conservative pundit who used to work in the Trump White House, also weighed in by asking his listeners why was "a homosexual guy lecturing us" about abortion rights.
Fellow Democrats and some prominent Republicans have criticized the comments, while Trump himself has said he thinks there is no reason why America would not elect a gay president.
Although some voters have balked at Buttigieg's candidacy when they realized he is gay, his sexuality has so far not been a major issue on the campaign trail.
"America has moved on and we should have politics of belonging that welcomes everybody -- that's what the American people are for -- and I'm saddened for what the Republican party has become if they embrace that kind of homophobic rhetoric," Buttigieg said.
"This election is not about any of us candidates, it's about voters' lives," added Buttigieg as he recalled how he was re-elected to his former job as a mayor in conservative Indiana with an increased majority after he came out as gay.
Buttigieg has so far racked up the most delegates in the contest to become the Democratic Party's candidate to take on Trump in November, although none of the major states have yet to hold their presidential primaries.