With less than five days until Democratic presidential nomination process kicks off with the Iowa caucus on Feb. 3, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has earned the endorsement of two prominent state LGBTQ advocacy organizations.
On Thursday, Equality California, the Golden State’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, and its Nevada-based affiliate Silver State Equality, announced they are endorsing Buttigieg.
The decision was reached unanimously by the group’s joint presidential endorsement committee, following a lengthy process that included a detailed questionnaire, evaluations of a candidate’s viability, and interviews with the candidates.
“In our 21-year history, we have endorsed hundreds of openly LGBTQ candidates, but never for president of the United States. That changes today,” Rick Zbur, the executive director of Equality California, said in a statement, calling Buttigieg the Democrat “best positioned” to defeat President Donald Trump in November.
“From his comprehensive plan to end the HIV epidemic by 2030 to his commitment to make our schools safe and supportive for LGBTQ students to his specific funding and policy priorities to protect and empower the transgender community — especially transgender women of color, who face an epidemic of violence and persecution — Mayor Pete Buttigieg has the boldest, most comprehensive agenda to achieve full, lived equality for all LGBTQ people of any presidential candidate in the nation’s history.”
The endorsements come at a key time for Buttigieg, who is hovering above the 15% threshold needed to obtain delegates in the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary, which will influence whether he decides to stay in the race, and could have a significant effect on whether people donate to his campaign.
Buttigieg currently trails Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden in both states.
Recent polling shows Biden leads in Nevada, and Sanders leading in California.
Nevada’s caucus will be held on Saturday, Feb. 22, and early voting kicks off in California on Feb. 3.
That’s why the timing of the endorsements is crucial: if Buttigieg can convince voters — particularly LGBTQ and allied voters — in both states that he is not only viable, but the better choice, he stands a better chance of being able to remain in the race after the so-called “Super Tuesday” contests on Mar. 3.
Both Equality California and Silver State Equality plan to run substantial get-out-the-vote efforts for candidates they’ve endorsed in 2020, which the organizations call “one of the most consequential election years” for the LGBTQ community.
To that end, both organizations say their chief goal must be defeating Trump, whose administration they see as an “existential threat” to the community and freedoms currently enjoyed by LGBTQ Americans.
Both organizations have committed to supporting the Democratic nominee — whomever it is — in the 2020 general election.
Besides Buttigieg, Equality California and Silver State Equality noted that they were impressed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), billionaire Tom Steyer, and, prior to her departure from the presidential contest, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).
“While we did not endorse Mayor Pete simply because he’s gay, the historic nature of his candidacy has already had a transformational impact on the LGBTQ community. Electing the first openly LGBTQ president will send a message to millions of LGBTQ youth across the country that no dreams are too big and no leadership position is too high,” Zbur said in a statement. “The challenges we face are great. But with the power of hope and a bold, progressive vision for the future, there is nothing we cannot achieve. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work.”
“I’m honored to receive the endorsements of Equality California and Silver State Equality, two organizations that have been unrelenting in their fight for LGBTQ+ people and our push for full equality,” Buttigieg said in a statement.
“My campaign is based around a shared future of belonging for all Americans, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity,” he added. “President Trump’s attacks on the LGBTQ+ community, especially our trans members, have shown us that the fight for equal rights did not end with marriage equality. I will be the President to continue that fight for equality for all Americans.”
The LGBTQ Victory Fund, a national organization dedicated to electing out LGBTQ individuals to public office, previously endorsed Buttigieg last June.
Former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, the president and CEO of the organization, issued her own statement responding to the endorsement by Equality California and Silver State Equality.
“Equality California is among the most powerful LGBTQ organizations in the United States and we are thrilled they have joined us in endorsing Pete for president,” Parker said. “On Monday, Pete becomes the first LGBTQ person in history to appear on the Iowa presidential primary ballot — a revolution in American politics that forever transforms the narrative on what is possible for an LGBTQ candidate. Pete has shattered expectations throughout this primary season and we are confident Iowans will help him do it again on caucus day.”
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