Indiana mayor comes out as gay in powerful newspaper column
The Mayor of South Bend, Indiana has come out as gay – in an essay in his local newspaper
Indiana came under fire earlier this year when the Republican-controlled legislature passed a ‘religious freedom’ law permitting anti-gay discrimination based on religion.
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is a Democrat, revealed his sexuality in a powerful announcement in the South Bend Tribune ahead of the US Supreme Court’s anticipated ruling on same-sex marriage.
He wrote: “Any day now, the Supreme Court will issue a decision on same-sex marriage that will directly affect millions of Americans. It comes at a time of growing public acceptance and support for equal rights.
“But no matter what the Court does, issues of equality are hardly settled across the country. Today it remains legal in most parts of Indiana (though not South Bend) to fire someone simply for being gay, and bullying still contributes to tragically high suicide rates among LGBT teens.”
He added: “Putting something this personal on the pages of a newspaper does not come easy. We Midwesterners are instinctively private to begin with, and I’m not used to viewing this as anyone else’s business.
“But it’s clear to me that at a moment like this, being more open about it could do some good. For a local student struggling with her sexuality, it might be helpful for an openly gay mayor to send the message that her community will always have a place for her.
“And for a conservative resident from a different generation, whose unease with social change is partly rooted in the impression that he doesn’t know anyone gay, perhaps a familiar face can be a reminder that we’re all in this together as a community.”
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“Being gay has had no bearing on my job performance in business, in the military, or in my current role as mayor.
“It makes me no better or worse at handling a spreadsheet, a rifle, a committee meeting, or a hiring decision. It doesn’t change how residents can best judge my effectiveness in serving our city: by the progress of our neighborhoods, our economy, and our city services.
Mr Buttigieg also wrote that Indiana should ‘move forward’ on the issue of LGBT rights, after fallout from the anti-gay law.
He said: “This kind of social change, considered old news in some parts of the country, is still often divisive around here. But it doesn’t have to be.
“We’re all finding our way forward, and things will go better if we can manage to do it together. In the wake of the disastrous ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act’ episode here in Indiana earlier this year, we have an opportunity to demonstrate how a traditional, religious state like ours can move forward.
“If different sides steer clear of name-calling and fear-mongering, we can navigate these issues based on what is best about Indiana: values like respect, decency, and support for families — all families.”