Even if you don’t agree with former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg’s politics or policies, his confirmation as President Biden’s Secretary of Transportation is a moment of pride for South Bend.
Buttigieg made history as South Bend’s first openly gay mayor. Thanks to President Biden’s appointment of Buttigieg to serve as Secretary of Transportation and the Senate’s bipartisan confirmation vote on Tuesday, he now becomes the first openly-gay Cabinet secretary in our nation’s history. Those milestones alone will forever be etched in our history books.
Perhaps even more importantly, the symbolism of a married gay man with a strong Christian faith carries weight with LGBT youth who may question their place in a society that historically has shunned them – or worse, persecuted them – especially in conservative parts of the country where discrimination is still far too common.
But there’s more to it than that, too, at least for locals.
As Secretary of Transporation, Buttigieg could lend support to important infrastructure projects in the region, including critical upgrades to the South Shore. That is a big deal. Needless to say, improving the connection between South Bend and Chicago is critical for the city’s economic future.
For the first time in a long time, South Bend has an advocate with the ear of the president of the United States. In fact, you may have to go back to the 19th century for the last time that South Bend had someone with this much influence in Washington DC; Schuyler Colfax served as Speaker of the House during the Civil War and later as Vice President to Ulysses S. Grant.
So, Secretary Pete, congratulations on your confirmation. South Bend is proud of you.