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Pete Buttigieg Is Nation's First Out Presidential Cabinet Nominee

Pete Buttigieg

President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate Pete Buttigieg as secretary of Transportation, CNN reports.

Buttigieg, a gay man, would be the first out member of the LGBTQ+ community to serve in a Senate-confirmed Cabinet post, if he is indeed confirmed.

He is the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., and he sought the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. He was the first out presidential aspirant to appear in a major party’s debate, and he made history by sharing his coming-out story in that forum. He won the most delegates in the Iowa caucus in January but dropped out of the race in March and then endorsed Biden. He has gone on to work on Biden’s transition team.

“I’m looking for a president who will draw out the best in each of us. … We have found that leader in vice president, soon to be president, Joe Biden,” Buttigieg said in making the endorsement.

Biden in turn complimented Buttigieg. “I don’t think I’ve ever done this before, but he reminds me of my son Beau,” Biden said at the time. “I know that may not mean much to most people, but to me it’s the highest compliment I can give any man or woman. … Like Beau, he has a backbone like a ramrod.”

Beau Biden was a military veteran, as Buttigieg is, and was attorney general of Delaware. He died of cancer at age 46 in 2015.

The president-elect considered Buttigieg for several other posts, including U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and secretary of Commerce, CNN reports. Buttigieg has a background in business consulting.

Other finalists for the Transportation job included former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, the news network notes.

Under Donald Trump, gay Republican Richard Grenell was briefly director of national intelligence, a Cabinet-level position, but only on an acting basis, so he did not have to be confirmed by the Senate.

Several LGBTQ+ rights groups issued statements praising Buttigieg’s nomination. 

“Pete’s nomination is a new milestone in a decades-long effort to ensure LGBTQ people are represented throughout our government — and its impact will reverberate well beyond the department he will lead,” said Victory Fund/Victory Institute President and CEO Annise Parker. “It distances our nation from a troubled legacy of barring out LGBTQ people from government positions and moves us closer to the President-elect’s vision of a government that reflects America. As an out LGBTQ person, Pete will bring a unique perspective that will inform and influence policy throughout the federal government. Most important, however, is that Pete will bring his intellect and energy to the Department of Transportation and our nation will be better off because of it.”

“With the reported historic nomination of former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg as Secretary-designate of Transportation, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are keeping their promise, representing a significant step in creating an administration that reflects the diversity and life experiences of America,” said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David.  

“Mayor Pete Buttigieg was open and honest about his identity throughout his time on the national scene, giving a voice to our community, and a new vision of who and how our leaders can love. His voice as a champion for the LGBTQ community in the Cabinet room will help President-elect Biden build back our nation better, stronger and more equal than before.

“This is a historic moment for our community, though not the end of our advocacy. We have and will continue to engage with the Biden-Harris Transition team to ensure that LGBTQ people will be appointed at all levels of government and that those appointments will reflect the full diversity of our community, including and especially LGBTQ people of color and transgender and gender -nonconforming people. It is absolutely critical that we as a community continue to uplift and empower the most marginalized among us to ensure the full tapestry of our voices are heard. We strongly urge speedy confirmation of Mayor Buttigieg’s nomination by the United States Senate so the Biden-Harris administration can hit the ground running and address the many crises facing our community and our nation.” 

“Mayor Pete Buttigieg would be the first Senate-confirmed LGBTQ Cabinet secretary should his nomination make it through the chamber,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “This will be a historic milestone for LGBTQ visibility. Pete's experience and skills as a leader, manager and brilliant communicator, combined with his heartland roots and his unqualified commitment to diversity and equality, will improve the lives of all Americans as Transportation secretary. Congratulations to Pete and his husband, Chasten, on their groundbreaking new roles.”

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