This is why Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren want anti-LGBT churches to keep tax-exempt status

Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren explained why they don't support plans to scrap tax exemption status for churches

Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren have distanced themselves from Democratic rival Beto O’Rourke’s call for anti-LGBT churches to lose tax-exempt status.

Appearing at CNN’s town hall on LGBT+ issues last week, O’Rourke called for religious institutions to lose their tax-exempt status if they reject LGBT+ people.

He said: “There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone, or any institution, any organisation in America, that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us.

“As president, we are going to make that a priority, and we are going to stop those who are infringing upon the human rights of our fellow Americans.”

The comments came under fire from Republicans, who accused O’Rourke of seeking to unpick constitutional protections for religious liberty.

His stance has not been echoed by other leading 2020 Democrats.

Pete Buttigieg: ‘Attacking separation of church and state would undermine LGBT equality.’

Pete Buttigieg, who is gay, told CNN on Sunday: “I agreed that anti-discrimination law ought to be applied to all institutions, but the idea that you’re going to strip churches of their tax-exempt status if they haven’t found their way toward blessing same-sex marriage… I’m not sure [O’Rourke] understood the implications of what he was saying.”

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke (Mario Tama/Getty)

Buttigieg continued: “That means going to war with not only churches but, I would think with mosques and a lot of organisations that may not have the same view of various religious principles that I do, that because of the separation of church and state, are acknowledged as non-profits in this country.

“If we want to talk about anti-discrimination laws for a school or organisation, absolutely. They should not be able to discriminate.

“But going after the tax exemption of churches, Islamic centres or other religious facilities in this country, I think that’s just going to deepen the divisions we’re already experiencing at a moment when we’re seeing more and more people moving in the right direction on LGBT+ rights, which is extremely important to me personally.”

Elizabeth Warren: ‘Religious institutions shouldn’t be forced to conduct same-sex weddings.’

In a statement to NBC on Monday, a spokesperson for Elizabeth Warren said: “Elizabeth will stand shoulder to shoulder with the LGBTQ+ community until every person is empowered and able to live their life without fear of discrimination and violence.

“Religious institutions in America have long been free to determine their own beliefs and practices, and she does not think we should require them to conduct same-sex marriages in order to maintain their tax exempt status.”