Anti-LGBT Republican Lindsey Graham emerges as unlikely voice of reason and defends Pete Buttigieg

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham

Anti-LGBT Republican senator Lindsey Graham has called out right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh over his attacks on Pete Buttigieg.

The South Carolina senator spoke out after Limbaugh, who Trump personally awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom last week, claimed on Tuesday that Pete Buttigieg kissing his husband causes “problems” for parents.

“So I saw a political ad, where Mayor Pete, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, going on and on and on and on and on, about how parents in America are struggling to explain president Trump to their children,” Limbaugh said on his radio show.

Holding up a photo of Buttigieg kissing his husband Chasten, Limbaugh continued: “So he says Trump causes problems for parents, what about that?”

He then criticised Buttigieg for “kissing his husband [in public] – which he does frequently”.

Lindsey Graham: ‘The country won’t disqualify a gay candidate for president.’

Lindsey Graham, who has avowedly opposed LGBT+ rights in the Senate, opted to speak out about Limbaugh’s comments.

The senator told Associated Press: “It’s a miscalculation as to where the country is at. I think the country is not going to disqualify somebody because of their sexual orientation.”

However, asked if Limbaugh should keep his Presidential Medal of Freedom, Graham said: “Well, my God. Free speech still exists.”

The senator, a close Trump ally and lifelong bachelor, has previously suggested that if he was president he would rotate the position of First Lady between his sister and close female friends.

Senator Lindsey Graham speaks to the media

Senator Lindsey Graham speaks to the media (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Republican senator Rob Portman – who has a gay son and supports same-sex marriage – said of Limbaugh’s comments: “He may disagree, as I do, with [Democrats’] policy positions, but the question is what their qualifications are, not other issues.

Senator Lamar Alexander, who is not running for re-election, said: “There may be reasons not to vote for Mayor Buttigieg, but that’s not one of them. This is a tolerant country.”

Republicans ‘leave alone’ row over Rush Limbaugh comments.

However, the vast majority of Republicans have refused to condemn Limbaugh’s remarks.

Anti-LGBT lawmaker Marsha Blackburn told AP: “I’m just going to leave all that alone.”

Buttigieg is yet to comment on Limbaugh, though he has tackled plenty of homophobes recently.

The candidate took the high road in response to to a viral video of an Iowa voter asking to withdraw her vote for him because he is gay.

He responded: “What I want her to know is that I’m running to be her president too.

“Of course, I wish she was able to see that my love is the same as her love for those that she cares about, and that my marriage means as much to me as hers, if she’s married.

“But if she can’t see that – and even if because she can’t see that, she won’t vote for me – I am still, if I’m elected president, going to get up in the morning and try to make the best decisions for her and the people she loves.

“I will work to serve every American whether they supported me or not.”