South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said Sunday his recent marriage to his husband demonstrated the importance of having representation at the highest levels of the political sphere.
Buttigieg, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, was asked at a CNN town hall event at South by Southwest how his potential election would impact LGBTQ Americans around the country. The lawmaker came out as gay in 2015 in the midst of a re-election campaign and, if elected, would be both the youngest and the first openly gay president in U.S. history.
“First of all, I think it helps me to understand what’s at stake in politics,” Buttigieg, 37, said. He then described the circumstances around his marriage to his husband last year, what he called “the most important thing in my life.”
“You know, that intimate thing in our lives exists by the grace of a single vote on the U.S. Supreme Court,” Buttigieg continued. “That really important freedom in my life, the freedom to marry, came about because of choices that were made by policymakers who had power over me and millions of others.”
Buttigieg lambasted former Indiana governor Vice President Mike Pence several times through the evening.
“Frankly, when I first got into politics, elected politics at the beginning of this decade, in Indiana, in Mike Pence’s Indiana, I thought you could either be out or you could be in office, but you couldn’t be both,” Buttigieg said. “Let’s be under no illusions: There are attacks on, for example, transgender Americans from the Oval Office, picking on troops, people willing to lay down their lives for this country, not to mention teenagers in our high schools.”
He continued: “So we’ve got to end the war on trans Americans. And we need a federal equality act that would say that you cannot be fired just because of who you are or just because of who you love.”
CNN’s town hall events on Sunday featured two other Democrats running for the party’s nomination. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and former Rep. John Delaney also spoke with potential voters and tried to distance themselves from what’s already become a crowded political field.