South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg (Democrat) made national headlines when he passed mayoral duties off to his deputy mayor in early 2014 so he could be deployed into active duty and spend seven months in Afghanistan. Nearly a year after returning from overseas and regaining his position as Mayor, Buttigieg is finding himself in the national headlines for a much different reason, one that many are calling his bravest act and applauding him for sharing one of his deepest secrets.
On Tuesday, Mayor Buttigieg published an essay in the South Bend Tribune in which he officially came out as being homosexual. The mayor shared his secret in the published essay in a way that everyone has access to it, can read through it, and can read exactly how he feels, rather than listening to quick soundbites in a press conference that may be used against him. The bold move comes at a time that he is up for re-election. Still, he wanted to ensure his story was put out there and sums it up by saying it is a “part of who I am.”
“It took years of struggle and growth for me to recognize that it’s just a fact of life, like having brown hair, and part of who I am.”
Mayor Buttigieg has not shied away from the spotlight in his entire time spent as mayor. He has opted to face tough issues in the struggling city, to coerce development, and to work diligently toward bringing an end to violence. His time has seen controversy within the city, such as the police wiretapping cases that resulted in the removal of his police chief. However, coming out publicly may just be the hardest act he has performed as mayor.
Rather than allow residents of South Bend and the surrounding cities to speculate on how his announcement will affect his leadership role, Mayor Buttigieg proactively addressed the subject in his essay, according to the Indy Star.
“Being gay has had no bearing on my job performance in business, in the military, or in my current role as mayor. It makes me no better or worse at handling a spreadsheet, a rifle, a committee meeting, or a hiring decision. It doesn’t change how residents can best judge my effectiveness in serving our city: by the progress of our neighborhoods, our economy, and our city services.”
Although some residents have ridiculed and berated Mayor Buttigieg for coming out as gay, an overwhelming amount of support has stepped forward and praised him for the decision to go public.
Butigieg was a strong supporter of gay marriage and hopes to have the same luxury someday.
“Like most people, I would like to get married one day and eventually raise a family. I hope that when my children are old enough to understand politics, they will be puzzled that someone like me revealing he is gay was ever considered to be newsworthy. By then, all the relevant laws and court decisions will be seen as steps along the path to equality. But the true compass that will have guided us there will be the basic regard and concern that we have for one another as fellow human beings — based not on categories of politics, orientation, background, status or creed, but on our shared knowledge that the greatest thing any of us has to offer is love.”
[Photo Courtesy: Brosher]