Fellow Democrats and LGBT leaders are heaping praise on South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg as he became Tuesday what’s believed to be Indiana’s first openly-gay mayor.
In an essay published in the South Bend Tribune, Buttigieg, who’s been mayor since 2012, announced he is gay, saying that while he’s “instinctively private” about such things, he realized being more open about it, in his words, “could do some good.”
Longtime LGBT rights activist Rick Sutton says having a prominent, well-respected figure such as Buttigieg come out can have a major impact on the LGBT community.
“I think it’ll just serve as a sort-of beacon to folks who may be wavering about coming out," Sutton says. "That’s the most important impact, as far as I’m concerned.”
In his announcement, Buttigieg – a Naval Reserve officer who recently spent seven months serving in Afghanistan – noted that being gay doesn’t impact his job. As he puts it, “It makes me no better or worse at handling a spreadsheet, a rifle, a committee meeting, or a hiring decision.”
Democratic legislative leaders Scott Pelath and Tim Lanane praised Buttigieg’s announcement, calling it another step in breaking down barriers that have divided Hoosiers for too long.