US President-elect Joe Biden has picked openly gay Democratic Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg for the post of Transport Secretary in his new cabinet. If confirmed by the Senate, Buttigieg will be the first openly gay Senate-confirmed person to lead a cabinet department US history.
Buttigieg had contested the Democratic Presidential elections against Biden and was the first openly gay Presidential candidate to win primary delegates from a major party when he won the Iowa caucuses, before ending his run and announcing his support for Biden.
“I’m honored that President-elect Joe Biden has asked me to serve our nation as Secretary of Transportation, joining the extraordinary team that he and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are assembling to lead our country forward,” Buttigieg said in a statement.
“Innovation in transportation helped build my hometown, and it propels our country. This is a moment of tremendous opportunity, and now is the time to build back better through modern and sustainable infrastructure that creates millions of good-paying union jobs, revitalises communities, and empowers all Americans to thrive. If confirmed, I will work every day to deliver on this vision for the American people.”
He gave further details of his top priorities on Twitter. “This is a moment of tremendous opportunity—to create jobs, meet the climate challenge, and enhance equity for all.”
This is a moment of tremendous opportunity—to create jobs, meet the climate challenge, and enhance equity for all.
I'm honored that the President-elect has asked me to serve our nation as Secretary of Transportation.
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) December 16, 2020
Biden And Buttigieg
“Mayor Pete Buttigieg is a leader, patriot, and problem-solver. He speaks to the best of who we are as a nation. I am nominating him for Secretary of Transportation because he’s equipped to take on the challenges at the intersection of jobs, infrastructure, equity, and climate,” Biden said.
Biden and Buttigieg have shared a warm and friendly relationship. While accepting Buttigieg’s endorsement in March, an emotional Biden had said that he reminded him of his late son Beau Biden.
“I know that may not mean much to most people, but to me it’s the highest compliment I can give any man or woman,” Joe Biden had said. Buttigieg in turn turned out to be a tremendous cheerleader for Biden, both on social media as well on television shows.
Buttigieg was elected as Mayor of South Indiana in 2012. He was deployed in Afghanistan as an Intelligence Officer in 2014 and on his return came out in a moving essay in the South Bend Tribune in 2015.
“Being gay has had no bearing on my job performance in business, in the military, or in my current role as mayor,” Buttigieg said. He explained that coming out could do good. “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.”
Buttigieg married Chasten Buttigieg, a junior high school teacher in 2018.
In a powerful moment, Buttigieg kissed Chasten on the lips on stage, before ending his Presidential campaign.
“We sent a message to every kid out there wondering if whatever marks them out as different means they are somehow destined to be less than, someone who once felt that exact same way can become a leading American presidential candidate with his husband at his side,” Buttigieg said.
Buttigieg An Infrastructure And Climate Change
Buttigieg’s Presidential campaign had promised that if elected he would create “6 million jobs with a $1 trillion plan that focuses on climate issues.” Buttigieg said he viewed climate change as a national security threat and supported the Paris climate agreement and Green New Deal. His agenda proposed net-zero emissions by 2050, double clean electricity by 2025, zero emissions in electricity generation by 2035, and net-zero emissions from industrial vehicles by 2040.
The Biden-Harris transition website gave details of why Buttigieg was the right person to be US transportation secretary.
“As Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, he secured $200 million in private investment in downtown South Bend, sparking citywide job growth and facilitating innovative public-private partnerships to improve the city’s transportation. (He) launched a ‘Smart Streets’ initiative that brought new life to what was once called a dying city — revitalising the city, redesigning the streets, and spurring major economic investment.”
The Equality Act
During his campaign, Buttigieg had endorsed a plan to update the the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to extend non-discrimination protections to the LGBTQI community.
President-elect Biden has said that he will push for the passage of the Equality Act that would ensure anti-bias protections to the LGBTQI community in all 50 states, within 100 days of taking office. If passed, the law would ensure federal protection from bias to the LGBTQI persons in housing, education, credit and other services across the United States.