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- Meet Pete Buttigieg, the young, gay veteran and Midwest mayor who wants to take on Trump in 2020;
More Videos Young mayor joins crowded presidential race Should Buttigieg win his long-shot bid for the Democratic nomination, he will become the first nominee of a major political party who publicly identifies as gay. If he goes on to defeat President Donald Trump, it'd be a historic win.
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This appears unlikely but by no means impossible at this point; Buttigieg is not very well-known outside of Indiana and he's entering a crowded field of more established contenders. That a gay married man is running a serious campaign for president, however, is a big deal, and we shouldn't let the improbability of his candidacy stop us from acknowledging this moment.
Gay marriage was legal in only two states in January -- Massachusetts and Connecticut. Voters in California -- one of the most Democratic states in the country -- had just passed Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage in the state. Barack Obama became President, and although he was supportive of expanding legal rights for the LGBT community and gay couples, he was on the record during his campaign as being opposed to same-sex marriage.
It would have been fair to think that progress would come slowly for the LGBT community if even Obama, who was considered to be a progressive within the Democratic Party on many critical issues, was publicly opposed to same-sex marriage at the time. But the next eight years of his presidency saw rapid change. In , President Obama signed into law the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act, ending a policy enacted in that prevent gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military.
In , in the heat of a presidential campaign, Obama became the first sitting US president to support same-sex marriage, telling ABC News, "At a certain point I've just concluded that for me, personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married. Three years later, the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot ban same-sex marriage, making it legal nationwide for gay and lesbian couples to marry. Public attitude shifted as well. By , that number had flipped: He came out in a local paper's op-ed pages in amid his re-election campaign for mayor, and married his husband, Chasten Glezman, in June.
He's also an undiluted progressive in a state that voted overwhelmingly for Trump in the election. To be fair, South Bend is located in the relatively liberal hamlet of St. Joseph County — the city is a stone's throw from the University of Notre Dame and hasn't had a Republican mayor since Still, Buttigieg chalks his electoral success up to his willingness to innovate in a city whose economic engine had long ago stalled out.
After banning the phrase "we've always done it that way" from his government's vernacular, Buttigieg worked to push the city in a more tech-friendly direction. The city launched a public data portal in , for instance, and more recently has committed to plans to build a tech hub at Ignition Park that were sparked by Buttigieg's predecessor. The efforts to change South Bend are delivering, at least by one metric: More people are moving in.
South Bend lost nearly a quarter of its population in the wake of Studebaker's departure in — down to about , by But in , an Indiana University demographer reported that the city had grown in three of the past four years. A small-city mayor has never before won the presidency, let alone one who still has microscopic name recognition compared to his Democratic opponents, or Trump.
Same goes for his age — no one in their 30s has ever won the presidency. And an openly gay man has never come close to winning a U.
Buttigieg's views on climate change, taxes and health care prove his progressive credentials — though they're not as far left as other candidates. Less than a month after announcing his exploratory committee, Buttigieg hasn't put forth a point-by-point policy agenda yet, nor has he officially launched his presidential campaign though he claims the latter is coming soon.
He says that's by design. In a recent ABC interview, Buttigieg explained the importance of laying out a set of values before diving into "the point plan," a trap he says his party too often falls into. His key values as a candidate are democracy, security and freedom — specifically, asserting a progressive definition of "freedom to" as opposed to conservatism's "freedom from.
He frames himself and his campaign as distinct from his Democratic competitors, including Sens.
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Yet when asked about his views on a handful of major policy subjects, his views tended to align closely with theirs. Like those candidates, Buttigieg said he supports the "premise" of the "Green New Deal," the ambitious resolution proffered by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N. Booker, Harris, Warren and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York have all co-sponsored the resolution. Buttigieg, however, took a more nuanced position. It's more a set of goals and principles than it is a particular policy, and that's fine," Buttigieg said.
But what they "get right," he said, "is that there really is a state of emergency when it comes to our climate, and we need to recognize that that calls for an emergency level of resources and attention. Similarly, his support for universal health care isn't so hard-line as that of, say, Kamala Harris. Where Harris advocated eliminating private insurance altogether as part of her "Medicare for All" proposal, Buttigieg said in a recent interview that "I don't see why" having universal health care "requires" doing away with private insurance.
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