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EXCLUSIVE: Pete Buttigieg’s Pastor Brother-in-Law Blasts ‘False Narrative’ in WaPo Report Smearing Him as ‘Bigot’

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. (AP Photo)
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. (AP Photo)

Standing in the living room of his home — the same space in which he recently led his middle brother Dustin to Christ — Rhyan Glezman, brother-in-law to Pete Buttigieg, lamented the “unfortunate” way a journalist for The Washington Post crafted a recent story that made him seem “homophobic.”

Several weeks ago, sitting in his office at Clio Community Church in Michigan, Rhyan said his phone rang. It was a reporter from the Post eager to talk with him about his brother Chasten’s marriage to the popular 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful.

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“I actually talked with them for about 35-40 minutes, shared the whole story,” Rhyan, a pastor, told Faithwire during a phone interview Thursday afternoon. “They took a couple little quotes out of that whole 40 minutes and it obviously was to fit their narrative, just to be honest.”

The 34-year-old minister, who told the Post he is opposed to same-sex marriage, said he felt like the journalist, Ellen McCarthy, was trying to make him come across to readers “like a bigot.”

Rhyan reached out to Faithwire Thursday morning, asking to “talk about the full story that the Washington Post left out.” And according to him, the story the outlet “left out” is quite different from the one McCarthy wrote.

While Chasten recalled to McCarthy a journey fraught with alienation and shame, Rhyan remembers something entirely different. The 29-year-old political spouse said there was a lot of judgement when he came out as gay to his family, claiming to remember one of his brothers uttering, “No brother of mine …” during the conversation with his mom and dad, both of whom are nominally Catholic and were, according to Rhyan, very accepting of Chasten’s orientation. Chasten told McCarthy his parents eventually embraced him.

“That was a long time ago, but that’s not what I would say. That’s not my character, that’s not my brother’s character,” Rhyan said. “Nobody ever rejected him at all. … I would say they embraced him even deeper.”

Chasten also told the Post he was homeless for a season — a claim Rhyan vehemently rebuffed, saying his brother was “never, ever” rejected.

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So if Chasten felt any level of discomfort or fear over telling his family about his sexual orientation, Rhyan said, it was his own feelings, not “because anyone made him feel that way.”

“I think that’s the Spirit of God and I think the Spirit talks, even when people aren’t filled with the Holy Spirit,” he explained, “because we were created in his image with his conscience.”

What does Rhyan really think?

While the article in the Post makes it sound like Rhyan, who has received a ton of hate mail since the story was published, has struggled to move past his youngest brother’s sexual orientation, the Michigan-based pastor revealed he has hosted Chasten’s previous partners in his home, took him on an all-expenses-paid trip to Six Flags in Illinois for his 21st birthday, got a cross tattoo at his brother’s request (Chasten never followed through on his end of the bargain), and even attended a baseball game in South Bend, Indiana, with Chasten and Pete before they got married in November of last year.

“I love my brother dearly. He’s my brother. That’s never gonna change,” Rhyan said, noting he often sends Chasten text messages with encouraging Bible verses, though the two haven’t talked in a while.

Rhyan’s issue is not solely with Chasten’s homosexuality. His main concern, he explained, is the “neglect of Christ” in his brother’s life and the fact that, in his view, Pete is building a presidential campaign on a “false narrative,” again noting his family was “very welcoming” of Chasten’s lifestyle.

In fact, according to Rhyan, the only members of his family who have faced rejection are those who have turned to the Christian faith. For his part, Rhyan, who came to Jesus after his own battle with drinking, hasn’t even spoken with his parents much in the last year.

“The further I get into my relationship with Christ,” he said, “the further my family distances themselves from me. That’s the truth.”

Much of that friction, Rhyan explained, is because those who are in Christ “become a mirror to other sin.” Even though he’s far from perfect — “You can ask my wife,” he quipped — the Holy Spirit “resides in me, so people see their faults in me,” and conviction follows.

Rhyan said he wants people to know those who hold to a biblical understanding of marriage as a union between one woman and one man are not “bigots” or “homophobic.” They’re just trying to follow God’s model for marriage.

“The world sees such a superficial view of the cross. It’s not condemnation; [God] knows what’s right for us,” Rhyan said, adding he hopes one day both Chasten and Pete will come to understand their faith differently.

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