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Harris: Suggesting that African Americans are homophobic is a trope

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks during the Democratic Presidential Debate at Otterbein University on October 15, 2019 in Westerville, Ohio.
Sen. Kamala Harris at the October Democratic presidential debate, Oct. 15. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sen. Kamala Harris told CNN Monday there's a "trope" among some Democrats that African Americans are homophobic or transphobic. And she called suggestions that fellow Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is struggling with black voters in South Carolina because he's gay "simply wrong."

What they're saying: Harris made the comments after Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) told CNN on Sunday "there's no question" that Buttigieg's sexuality is an issue for older African Americans and that it's "a generational issue." Harris stressed she respects Clyburn "a lot," but she added bias exists in all communities.

  • Buttigieg told CNN earlier Monday he hoped to move "past old prejudices" by getting on with his job.
  • In a separate CNN interview Monday, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.) said, "I celebrate the fact that we have an openly gay man in this race and it's something that's exciting to me."

Background: An internal Buttigieg campaign memo leaked to The State suggested South Carolina focus groups felt being gay "was a barrier" that the South Bend mayor's campaign had to try and break down, though his campaign pushed back on the narrative.

Worth noting: Support for same-sex marriage has remained steady among white, African American and Hispanic people over the past two years. Pew Research Center statistics published in May show "62% of whites support same-sex marriage, as do 58% of Hispanics and 51% of blacks."