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Pete Buttigieg Can’t Reach Ron DeSantis to Talk Florida Transportation Projects: Report

Pete Buttigieg Can’t Reach Ron DeSantis to Talk Florida Transportation Projects: Report

Pete Buttigieg

The Florida governor appears more concerned with targeting the LGBTQ+ community than fixing the state’s transportation problems.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is a favorite target of the right. Conservatives appear to have difficulty handling the most senior gay official in the U.S. government with a husband, Chasten, and children. The Buttigieg kids, Penelope and Gus, have been in the world for over two years, and Republican voters remain obsessed with their parents.

Throughout it all, Buttigieg faced political attacks from those on the right who otherwise praised “strong family values.”

It is, therefore, no surprise that Buttigieg is keenly aware of the realities LGBTQ+ people face in 2023 as conservatives attack the community and LGBTQ+ people from American society through targeted legislation intended to limit discussion of sexual orientation, gender identity, and books, as well as eliminate essential health care for transgender people.

“I think it’s gotten worse,” Buttigieg told Time during a recent interview. “I think we’re actually in an exceptionally ugly moment in terms of some figures deciding that there’s utility, political utility, in targeting trans people and LGBTQ people more generally,” before pointing to Republicans who voted against last year’s Respect For Marriage Act, which provides some protections for same-sex and interracial marriages. The bill, which received overwhelming support from Democrats, was opposed by 36 Republican senators and 169 Republican representatives.

“I mean, look how many people voted against marriage equality—which should have been an easy one—just as recently as a few months ago. And so I think it’s a reminder that none of what’s been gained is really locked in.”

Gallup reports that more than 71 percent of Americans favor marriage equality.

In light of the recent ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, Buttigieg warns that a Supreme Court decision also ushered in marriage equality, and the justices have proved themselves capable of overturning established precedent.

“I don’t think anything is safe. I mean, Roe fell, and that was the law of the land for longer than I’ve been alive. Nothing is safe. Especially right now,” Buttigieg said.

Currently, LGBTQ+ rights in this country face a terrifying reality. Far-right provocateurs and lawmakers have moved on to identity politics after the court's decision.

These policies do not help Republicans win over middle-class voters, despite the praise of hard-right lawmakers. While Buttigieg acknowledges the privileges he enjoys, he believes this approach will fail.

“The situation of an upper-middle-class, married white gay dude is not the same as a trans kid in Texas or any number of LGBTQ people of color trying to survive right now,” he said. “They see political value in this. I see not only distraction but a very real harm that’s being done. And that’s gonna persist until they figure out that it is not rewarding politically for them.”

One of the GOP candidates for president in 2024 has gone all in on hatred of LGBTQ+ people. As Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis has unapologetically targeted queer people in his state, and it appears that that disdain extends to his professional interactions with Buttigieg.

One example is a proposed rail line connecting Miami to Tampa via a station near Disney World near Orlando. Federal infrastructure dollars could be a big boon to the state. As a result of its dispute with DeSantis, the company canceled an expansion of $1 billion and the construction of a station at Disney Springs.

According to Time, the train will instead head to the Orange County Convention Center in central Florida, but the longer it lingers, the less likely a Washington cash infusion will be.

Despite his best efforts, Buttigieg said he has yet to speak with DeSantis about transportation issues. Buttigieg noted that he has called DeSantis but has yet to talk to him.

“I’ve never heard from this governor, and it’s not because I’ve never called him. We’ve never spoken. What I will say is we’ve done a lot of good work with the Florida Department of Transportation,” Buttigieg said. “We try to work around and through all that to just get stuff done. A huge amount of energy and effort is being wasted in these dumb fights. And that’s really unfortunate. It’s policy waste in order to achieve political benefit or perceived political benefit.”

Buttigieg added, “He’s more worried about Bud Light or Disney or whatever.”

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