Another Democrat has entered the ring.
Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, announced Wednesday that he is launching a committee to explore a presidential run in 2020, BuzzFeed News reports.
“We can’t look for greatness in the past. Right now, our country needs a fresh start,” says Buttigieg in a video statement. “I belong to a generation that is stepping forward right now … We're the generation that lived through school shootings, that served in the wars after 9/11. And we're the generation that stands to be the first to make less than our parents unless we do something different.”
Despite his lack of experience on the national stage, Buttigieg has a pretty impressive resume, almost like he was cooked up in a presidential candidate lab. He’s Harvard and Oxford-educated, not to mention a Rhodes Scholar, and he has a military background. Former President Barack Obama even named him as someone who will lead the Democratic Party into the future in a 2016 New Yorker profile.
Buttigieg also happens to be gay, having come out publicly in a 2015 op-ed in The South Bend Tribune:
“[A]t a moment like this, being more open about [my sexual orientation] could do some good,” he wrote. “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.”
Many outlets, including ours, have noted that Buttigieg would be the first openly gay president if elected. (Not that he's the first gay man to ever run. Remember Fred Karger?). So, how does the South Bend Mayor stand on LGBTQ+ rights?
Well, according to The South Bend Tribune, Buttigieg supported adding sexual orientation and gender identity to his city’s civil rights ordinance shortly after taking office in 2012 and he was a vocal critic of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed into law by then-Governor Mike Pence four years ago. The law, which effectively enabled discrimination against LGBTQ+ people under the guise of protecting religious freedoms, was later amended to be less discriminatory.
Pro-LGBTQ+ rights are gaining legislative momentum at the moment, what with renewed interest in the Equality Act and all, but will that be enough to set Buttigieg apart from competitors like Senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Kirsten Gillibrand? Only time will tell.