"I Am Gay": Indiana Mayor Comes Out In Heartwarming Op-Ed

Photo: Courtesy of Marcus Marter/AP Photo.
Pete Buttigieg, the 33-year-old mayor of South Bend, IN, came out to his city yesterday in a newspaper editorial. He is the youngest mayor in the country — from a state that recently made national news for its "religious freedom" law that many called anti-gay.

"I was well into adulthood before I was prepared to acknowledge the simple fact that I am gay," Buttigieg wrote in the South Bend Tribune.

Buttigieg is currently in the third year of his mayoral term. As a Navy Reserve officer, in 2014, he took a leave of absence to serve in Afghanistan. That year, The Washington Post famously called him "the most interesting mayor you've never heard of." He is a Rhodes scholar who studied economics at Oxford and received his undergraduate degree in history and literature from Harvard.

In his letter, Mayor Buttigieg addressed the lack of relevance his sexual orientation has on his many accomplishments. "Being gay has had no bearing on my job performance in business, in the military, or in my current role as mayor. It makes me no better or worse at handling a spreadsheet, a rifle, a committee meeting, or a hiring decision. It doesn’t change how residents can best judge my effectiveness in serving our city: by the progress of our neighborhoods, our economy, and our city services," he wrote.

Though Buttigieg is a Democrat and South Bend is largely a Democratic city, Indiana is historically Republican. On March 26 of this year, Governor Mike Pence signed the highly controversial "religious freedom" law allowing Indiana businesses to refuse service to LGBT customers for religious reasons. After a week of intense backlash, Pence agreed to revise the bill.

At the height of the debacle, Mayor Buttigieg made his disapproval clear, "This is something that sends exactly the wrong message when we have been working so hard to move Indiana into the 21st century," he told WNDU.

Mayor Buttigieg returned to the issue, and the concept of progress for the state, in yesterday's letter, writing, "In the wake of the disastrous 'Religious Freedom Restoration Act' episode here in Indiana earlier this year, we have an opportunity to demonstrate how a traditional, religious state like ours can move forward."
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