Pete Buttigieg – Photo: LGBTQ Victory Fund, via Facebook.
The LGBTQ Victory Fund has endorsed South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s campaign for President of the United States.
Buttigieg is only the second openly gay person to seek the Oval Office, following Republican Fred Karger, who ran in 2012 but failed to meet the threshold for appearing in televised debates.
The endorsement, which was approved by a unanimous vote of the 104-member Victory Campaign Board, is also Buttigieg’s first from a national organization.
The announcement of LGBTQ Victory Fund’s endorsement came on Friday, June 28, on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising that launched the modern-day LGBTQ rights movement.
It also marks a first-of-its-kind milestone for the LGBTQ Victory Fund, which has never endorsed a presidential candidate.
“Fifty years ago, queer people of color and trans people led a riot that sparked a revolution — and now we build on that legacy by endorsing Mayor Pete Buttigieg for President of the United States,” Annise Parker, the president and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement.
“It was only 11 years ago that all the leading presidential contenders — Republicans and Democrats — opposed full recognition of LGBTQ rights and relationships,” Parker continued. “Yet here we are, just one decade later, endorsing the first viable LGBTQ candidate for president of the United States — a frontrunner in a crowed primary, neck-and-neck with the most well-known names in American politics.”
Parker particularly spoke to the sense of possibility that Buttigieg’s candidacy has given to young LGBTQ Americans, who for the first time may see themselves as a potential presidential contender, and expressed hope that his candidacy would encourage other LGBTQ individuals to run for office — the main thrust of Victory Fund’s mission — at the state and local level.
While some pundits have wondered aloud whether Buttigieg’s sexual orientation and openness about his marriage to his husband will dissuade voters from supporting him, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll from April shows that a majority of Americans say they’d either be comfortable or “enthusiastic” about a gay person running for president.
A recent Gallup poll from May shows a higher level of support, with 76% of Americans say they’d be open to voting for an openly gay presidential candidate.
The endorsement comes on the heels of Buttigieg’s first debate appearance in Miami, Fla., on Thursday night.
By most accounts, Buttigieg performed well, making some significant points on various policies and trying to cast himself as both part of a younger generation of Democrats and as a palatable candidate from the Midwest who would not alienate large swaths of working-class voters who backed Trump in the 2016 election.
He also made history, becoming the first openly gay person to participate in a presidential debate, and the first person to discuss their same-sex spouse in a debate.
Buttigieg specifically called out his marriage to husband Chasten — the first mention of a same-sex partner in a presidential debate — noting the importance of the Supreme Court.
“I have the experience of being in a marriage that is possible by a single vote on the Supreme Court,” he said.
Buttigieg also delivered a powerful takedown of hypocrisy among Republicans who espouse their religious ideals, while also sanctioning the detention of migrant children at the border.
“The Republican Party likes to cloak itself in the language of religion,” he said. “We should call out hypocrisy when we see it. For a party that associates itself with Christianity to say that it is OK to suggest that God would smile on the division of families at the hands of federal agents — that God would condone putting children in cages — has lost all claim to ever use religious language again.”
He came under fire for his record on race relations, specifically his failure to integrate the police force in South Bend — a city where more than 1 in 4 residents is African-American but only 6% of the police force is — and handling of an officer-involved shooting of a black resident.
But Buttigieg has also proven he is a viable candidate, raking in a large number of donations from individuals across the nation and consistently performing in the high single-digits in polls, placing him in a second tier of candidates who have a chance at upsetting or overtaking the two frontrunners, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
For her part, Parker praised the attributes that led Victory Fund to throw its weight behind Buttigieg’s candidacy.
“LGBTQ Victory Fund is endorsing Mayor Pete because he is the best candidate for president of
the United States,” she said. “Mayor Pete’s executive experience, record of military service, and authentic approach to politics and policy makes him the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump at the ballot box. He is the anti-Trump: experienced, accomplished, patriotic, and thoughtful. We see the path to victory for Mayor Pete and are ready to mobilize our network of LGBTQ people and allies to help make it happen.”