In September, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced that he and his husband, Chasten Buttigieg, had welcomed twins Penelope Rose and Joseph August to their family. And now, the new dad is defending himself against conservative hate-mongers reluctant to let him enjoy some time off from his job as part of his government-permitted paternity leave.
Teaganne Finn of NBC News reported that Buttigieg “defended paid family leave Sunday, Oct. 17, after Fox News host Tucker Carlson mocked him for taking paternity leave to care for his newborn twins.”
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In an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, Buttigieg said, “when somebody welcomes a new child into their family and goes on leave to take care of that child, that’s not a vacation. It’s work. It’s joyful, wonderful, fulfilling work, but it is work.”
The public discourse over Buttigieg’s time off started last week when Politico reported that the Biden White House administration member was in the midst of a paid paternity leave.
Following that disclosure, Fox News talk show host Tucker Carlson issued a series of disparaging sexist, homophobic and anti-family statements on his program.
According to Finn, “not long afterward, many people came to Buttigieg’s defense, including White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who tweeted that she is ‘proud to work in an Administration that is fighting to make paid leave a reality for everyone and with people like Secretary Pete, who are role models on the importance of paid leave for new parents.’”
Joseph Choi of The Hill reported that Buttigieg responded to Carlson’s remarks, saying last week on MSNBC, “what is really strange is that this is from a side of the aisle that used to claim the mantle of being pro-family. What we have right now [with Biden] is an administration that’s actually pro-family.”
“Even though I’ve been on paternity leave, and I’m proud of it, obviously given the nature of my job, when you take a job like mine, you understand and accept that you’re going to have to be available 24/7,” Buttigieg continued. “You’re going to have to engage, and I did even if that meant taking a phone call or making a decision from a hospital room.”
The Advocate’s Mikelle Street perhaps summed up the controversy best, reporting on Joy Behar’s comments on The View after news of Carlson’s hate-filled comment broke.
“I’d like to just say that Pete Buttigieg served six years in the Navy Reserves and was deployed in Afghanistan,” Behar said. “Tucker Carlson was booted off Dancing With the Stars after he couldn’t even do the cha-cha.”