Gay Democratic Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg has officially launched his campaign to become President of the United States.
The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is one of more than 15 Democrats vying for the chance to challenge Donald Trump in the 2020 Presidential election.
Pete Buttigieg makes history with Presidential bid
In his speech to the Pete for America rally, Buttigieg said: “My name is Pete Buttigieg. They call me Mayor Pete. I am a proud son of South Bend, Indiana, and I am running for President of the United States.”
He added: “We live in a moment that compels us each to act. The forces changing our country today are tectonic.
“Forces that help to explain what made this current presidency even possible. This time it’s not just about winning an election, it’s about winning an era.”
The mayor set out a liberal agenda, calling out “violent white nationalism rearing its ugly head” and setting out plans for economic reforms to boost smaller post-industrial cities.
The candidate also paid an emotional tribute to his husband Chasten, to loud cheers from the crowd, “for giving me the strength to do this, and the grounding to be myself as we go.”
Referencing LGBT+ rights, he said: “Take it from Chasten and me, you’re not free if a county clerk gets to tell you who you ought to marry because their idea of their political beliefs.”
He added: “Our marriage exists by the grace of a single vote on the US Supreme Court. Nine women and men sat down in a room and took a vote, and brought me the most important freedom in my life.”
Pete Buttigieg campaign launch hailed as ‘historic’
The candidate is the first serious openly gay candidate for a major political party in recent history.
Chris Cabaldon, the mayor of West Sacramento, California, introduced Buttigieg with an emotional speech about gay equality.
He said: “Are you aware we are making history? For the first time since the founding of our Republic, we’re here today for an American who can be legally fired for no reason other than how his Creator made him. Who in most states, can be evicted from his home.
“An American whose marriage was still illegal in 40 states up until a couple years ago. An American who federal policy so thoroughly dehumanises down at the cellular level, that Pete would be turned away at the bloodmobile, if, as Mayor, he had to rush to the scene of the Pulse nightclub in his own community, to rescue the people he’s sworn to protect.
“But for the first time in our nation’s history, that American is a top-tier major party candidate for President of the United States.”
Cabaldon added: “Far from a gay panic sweeping the nation, Americans are falling in love with his husband, Chasten. Maybe the people of our country are even surprising themselves, as they are saying, Pete Buttigieg is the gay, Maltese-American, left-handed Episcopalian war veteran that America didn’t know we needed.
“This is a historic moment that reveals how far our nation has to go, but that also America never runs out of surprises. 15-year-old me could only think about not getting beat up, or shunned, or killed.
“I couldn’t have even dreamed of this day four months ago. But I’m as moved and inspired by America’s decisive embrace of Pete Buttigieg as I was when my family and friends hugged me closer when I came out.”
Although Buttigieg was polling less than one percentage point when he first announced his bid, Buttigieg has seen a surge in media attention, fundraising and popular support in recent weeks.
Some polls have shown that he is now in third place in the crucial early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire, behind only Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.
Pete Buttigieg has ‘shattered lavender ceiling’
Annise Parker of Victory Fund, a Political Action Committee that supports LGBT+ candidates, paid tribute to Buttigieg.
She said: “Mayor Pete shattered a lavender ceiling once thought unbreakable, becoming the first openly LGBTQ Democratic presidential candidate in American history and our first real shot at the Oval Office.
“There is enormous power in an openly gay presidential candidate stumping at town halls in Iowa and speaking to Americans from the presidential debate stage – it changes perceptions of our community and raises the bar for candidates who seek LGBTQ support.
“While Mayor Pete’s candidacy is historic and a milestone moment for our community, his meteoric rise is most notable for the support he’s receiving from diverse groups of voters.
“There are enormous minefields and hurdles to running as an openly LGBTQ candidate, and so far, Mayor Pete has gracefully leapt over them on the world’s largest political stage. He’s the real deal.”
Candidate previously opened up about struggling with sexuality
Buttigieg, who only came out in 2015 at the age of 33, has recently spoken about his own struggle to reconcile his sexuality with his faith.
In a speech to LGBT+ campaigners on April 7, Buttigieg admitted: “When I was younger, I would have done anything to not be gay.
“When I began to realise what it meant that I felt the way I did, I launched a kind of war [inside me], and if that war had been settled on the terms that I wished for when I was 15 or 20 or 25, I would not be standing here.
“If you had offered me a pill to make me straight, I would have swallowed it before you had time to give me a sip of water. If you showed me exactly what it was inside me that made me gay, I would have cut it out with a knife.”
He continued: “If I had had a chance to do that, I wouldn’t have found my way to [husband] Chasten. The best thing in my life, my marriage, might not have happened at all. How dark the thought that the man I love might not have been part of my life at all.
More from PinkNews
|Stars You Didn't Know Were Gay Or Bisexual||The Stars You Didn’t Know Have An LGBT Sibling||The Straight Stars Who Went Gay For Pay|
“Thank God there was no pill, thank God there was no knife.”
Pete Buttigieg: My marriage is a moral issue because it made me a better person
He also grabbed media attention after hitting out at Vice President Mike Pence’s views on LGBT+ rights.
Buttigieg has plenty of personal history with Pence, who was the governor of Indiana during his first term as mayor of South Band, Indiana.
The candidate told Victory Fund: “People talk about marriage equality as a moral issue. And it certainly is a moral issue as far as I’m concerned, because being married to Chasten has made me a better human being.
“[Being married] has made me more compassionate, more understanding, more self-aware and more decent. My marriage to Chasten has made me a better man. And yes, Mr Vice President, it has moved me closer to God.”
He added: “This idea that there’s something wrong with you, puts you at odds not only with yourself but with your maker.
“Speaking only for myself, I can tell you that if me being gay was a choice, it was a choice that was made far, far above my pay grade. And that’s the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand.
“If you’ve got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.”