Pete Buttigieg Warns Amy Coney Barrett Could Put 'Marriage Equality Back on the Table'

Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg warned on Tuesday that confirming Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court could re-open the legal debate about same-sex marriage.

Buttigieg, who has recently emerged as an effective surrogate for former Vice President Joe Biden's presidential campaign, told CNN's Chris Cuomo that an expanded conservative majority on the court could risk overturning the landmark 2015 ruling Obergefell v. Hodges which declared same-sex couples had the right to marry.

"Well, my main concern is that they seem to be wanting to put marriage equality back on the table. This was a move that America made, a move forward we made five years ago, in the belief that there was no going back," Buttigieg said.

"Yet we saw two justices on the conservative majority that's already seated on the court write in ways that made it sound like they're ready to go back on that."

Buttigieg was referring to a recent opinion from Justices Thomas Clarence and Samuel Alito, which harshly criticized the court's decision in Obergefell.

"Just imagine, if this doesn't already affect you and you're watching this at home, imagine how you would feel watching this committee proceeding if you knew that your marriage only existed by a one-vote margin on this court," Buttigieg said.

During the second day of confirmation hearings on Tuesday, Barrett said challenges to Obergefell would "most likely" be struck down in the district courts as they're bound by the Supreme Court's precedent.

When she was questioned on her view of the ruling by Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, she said she had "no agenda" and added: "I have never discriminated on the basis of sexual preference and would not discriminate on the basis of sexual preference."

A New York Times profile of Barrett on October 11 reported that she had served on the board of an Indiana private school that barred the children of unmarried couples from attending. Same-sex marriage was not legal in the state at that time and there was an ongoing political battle about it. However, the Times reports one source as saying Barrett was not involved in deciding the policy.

Barrett later apologized for using the term "sexual preference" after Democrats and critics pointed out that it implied sexuality was a choice. Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono said it was "offensive and outdated."

"I certainly didn't mean and would never mean to use a term that would cause any offense to the LGBTQ community," Barrett said in response to Hirono's questions.

"So, if I did, I greatly apologize for that. I simply meant to be referring to Obergefell's ruling with respect to same-sex marriage," she said.

Pete Buttigieg and His Husband, Chasten
With his husband Chasten by his side, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg announces he is ending his campaign to be the Democratic nominee for president during a speech at the Century Center on March 01, 2020 in South Bend, Indiana. Buttigieg was the first openly-gay candidate for president. Buttigieg has warned same-sex marriage rights could be at risk. Scott Olson/Getty Images