Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has formally launched his bid for the American presidency – making him the first serious openly gay candidate for a major party in US history.
Having formed an exploratory committee for his Presidential bid in January, he formally launched his campaign on Sunday April 14 at a ‘Pete for America’ rally in South Bend.
In his speech, 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.”
Buttigieg put forward a liberal agenda, denouncing white nationalism and laying out plans for economic reforms designed to support smaller post-industrial cities.
He also gave thanks to his husband Chasten “for giving me the strength to do this, and the grounding to be myself as we go.” On 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.” 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.”
Buttigieg enters a crowded field of Presidential hopefuls, with over 15 Democratic candidates vying for the chance to contest the 2020 election. When he first announced his bid, he was polling at less than 1%. However, recent polls find him now in third place – behind Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders – in the crucial states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
Annise Parker of Victory Fund, a political action committee that aims to increase the number of openly LGBT+ public officials in the US, spoke in support of Buttigieg at his campaign launch.
“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,” she said. “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.”
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