Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg made history Tuesday, becoming the first openly gay man to win Senate confirmation to run a Cabinet department.
The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly confirmed Pete Buttigieg’s nomination to be transportation secretary by a vote of 86-13.
Buttigieg is at age 39 the youngest member of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet. He is tasked with advancing Biden’s ambitious agenda to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, fight the climate crisis, and improve efficiency and safety in the transportation network.
Biden has said his infrastructure improvement proposals would include the “second great railroad revolution,” and that he would seek funding “to build more climate-resilient communities to deal with more extreme floods, droughts and super storms.”
When his nomination was first announced, Buttigieg said he was “mindful that the eyes of history are on this appointment,” saying he recalled as a 17-year-old seeing the news that one of then-President Bill Clinton’s intended nominees was denied a Senate vote because he was gay.
During his confirmation hearing, Buttigieg’s husband, Chasten, sat behind him in the hearing room.
In his opening statement at the hearing, Buttigieg took the historic moment to thank his husband.
“I’d like to take a moment to introduce my husband Chasten Buttigieg, who is here with me today,” Pete said. “I’m really proud to have him by my side. I also want to take this chance to thank him for his many sacrifices and his support in making it possible for me to pursue public service.”
Erin Uritus, CEO of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, said on Tuesday: “For the first time ever, an openly LGBTQ person has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate to hold a Cabinet-level position. This is big news. Today it is even easier for LGBTQ Americans to see ourselves in national leadership.”
“Pete shattered a centuries-old political barrier with overwhelming bipartisan support and that paves the way for more LGBTQ Americans to pursue high-profile appointments,” Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute, said. “Pete testifying at his confirmation hearing, with his husband looking on, will be among the powerful images that define this unprecedented political moment and will be remembered as a milestone in America’s move toward social justice.”