Days after Donald Trump awarded him the highest civilian honour in the US, right-wing mouthpiece Rush Limbaugh has faced a wave of outrage after the radio host expressed homophobic claims on his show, suggesting Americans would be disgusted seeing candidate Pete Buttigieg kissing his husband on stage.
The conservative talk show radio host made at least five references to Democratic frontrunner Mr Buttigieg kissing his husband Chasten during his programme on Wednesday.
Mr Limbaugh said the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana would not perform well in a debate standing next to the president, who Mr Limbaugh called "Mr Man”, suggesting his sexuality makes Mr Buttigieg less of a man.
He told his listeners: “They [voters] are sitting there and they’re looking at Mayor Pete — a 37-year-old gay guy, mayor of South Bend, loves to kiss his husband on the debate stage — and they’re saying, ‘OK. How’s this gonna look, a 37-year-old gay guy kissing his husband on stage next to Mr Man, Donald Trump? What’s gonna happen there?'
“They gotta be looking at that, and they’ve gotta be saying that despite all the great progress and despite all the great wokeness and despite all the great ground that’s been covered, America’s still not ready to elect a gay guy kissing his husband on the debate stage president. They have to be saying this, don’t they?”
Mr Limbaugh went as far as to suggest some Democrats believe the best way to win is to “ram” gay kissing “down Trump’s throat and beat him in the election”.
“Having fun envisioning that,” he added.
Actor and activist George Takei, who is gay, said: "Rush Limbaugh asked how parents would explain to their kids [Mr Buttigieg] kissing his husband ... Easy. They're in love and married. That's a whole lot easier than explaining why a misogynistic, racist, homophobe has a damn Presidential Medal of Freedom."
Radio host Mr Limbaugh, 69, has been a prominent and powerful supporter of the president, who awarded Mr Limbaugh the presidential Medal of Freedom at his 2020 State of the Union address.
Mr Limbaugh announced his lung cancer diagnosis the day before he received the award.
On CNN, host Jim Sciutto accused conservative commentator Ben Ferguson of "justifying bigotry" by defending Mr Limbaugh's comments and claiming that the president appears more masculine than Mr Buttigieg.
Mr Sciutto pointed out that the president had several medical deferments for "bone spurs" to avoid military service while Mr Buttigieg voluntarily joined the US Navy Reserve and served in Afghanistan.
He has run his radio programme, The Rush Limbaugh Show, for more than three decades after it first aired in 1988.
During that time, the show rose to become the highest-rated talk radio show in the US.