US voters may not be ready for openly gay president



By Youssef Chaibi
Contributing Writer

Openly gay presidential candidate Peter Buttigieg has turned some heads ahead of the 2020 election.

Some students, staff and faculty said they do not think the U.S. is ready to separate religion and politics, but might be willing to do so in the near future.

Baltazar Alvarez, world religions adjunct faculty member, said qualifications and personal characteristics come first when he considers presidential candidates. Some candidates may change their ideology from one voting cycle to the next, he said.

Psychology professor La’ Kendra Higgs said she feels it’s more important to focus on what candidates have to say and how they will represent their political views opposed to what their actual views are. “Sometimes candidates may possess values or do things that are not necessarily demonstrative of political parties beings,” Higgs said.

Jeremy White, a student, said he would vote for somebody whose political ideology aligns with his. “I think that somebody’s sexual orientation is probably down on the list,” he said.

However, Alvarez said while it does not matter to him, he does not think all voters will be able to get past candidates’ sexual orientation. He said: “Sexual orientation is going to be a big deal. [People will] either stand for it or against the orientation and go.”

Student Raymond Johnson said he does not care about candidates’ sexual orientation. However, he said he still does not think Americans are ready for an openly gay president. “People have strong Christian beliefs, and they don’t like to go outside their comfort zone,” he said.

Sociology professor Elgrie Hurd also said he does not think society is ready for an openly gay president. “That we’re not even getting past color speaks to the fact that we’re still a fractured nation and that we’re really not as tolerant or as accepting as we want to be,” he said.

Bob Little, a government professor, said younger generations are more accepting of homosexuality, but they do not turn out to vote as much as older generations. “Older generations have a higher voter turnout,” he said. “We’re a conservative society. Sexuality issues concerning the family are extremely sensitive.”

Philosophy professor Nathan M. Bell said Buttgieg has little chance of winning the democratic nomination not only because of his sexuality but because of his young age and lack of experience.

“I think political experience will be the big one for him,” Bell said. “He has mostly local state government experience, and he’s going up against people who have a lot of national government experience.”

If Buttigieg does win and faces Trump 2020, Alvarez said he thinks there will be a radical cultural divide and extreme polarization in American society.

Alvarez said: “They will become very polarizing candidates, I mean, polarizing from one end of the spectrum to the other. Then you will have the ultimate answer to your ultimate question. What did the American people choose? Great cultural divide.”