On CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday, Mayor Pete Buttigieg pushed back on fellow 2020 candidate Beto O'Rourke's proposal to strip religious institutions of their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage, arguing that it would just "deepen the divisions that we're already experiencing."

"I’m not sure [O'Rourke] understood the implications of what he was saying. I mean, that means going to war not only with churches, but I would think with mosques and a lot of organizations that may not have the same view of various religious principles that I do, but also, because of the separation of church and state, are acknowledged as nonprofits in this country. So, if we want to talk about anti-discrimination law for a school or an organization, absolutely. They should not be able to discriminate. But going after the tax-exemption of churches, Islamic centers or other religious facilities in this country, I think that's just going to deepen the divisions that we're already experiencing.
— Pete Buttigieg

The big picture: Last week, O'Rourke argued that religious institutions like schools or churches should lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose gay marriage, framing it as a violation of non-discrimination law. Buttigieg argues that while schools or organizations are fair game, targeting churches or other places of worship is misguided.

  • Conservatives harshly criticized O'Rourke's remarks for infringing on religious freedom.
  • Buttigieg himself is a gay man and a devout Christian who often speaks about the intersection of his faith and sexuality has shaped his worldview.

Go deeper ... 2020 Democrats' LGBTQ town hall: What you need to know

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This story is from Barak Ravid's new weekly newsletter, Axios from Tel Aviv, which launches today. Sign up here.

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