Last weekend Pete Buttigieg officially announced his bid to become the youngest and first openly gay president of the United States.
At the top of his announcement speech in South Bend, Indiana, the 37-year-old mayor thanked his husband, “my love” Chasten, “for giving me the strength to do this and the grounding to be myself as we go.” After the speech, Chasten joined his husband at the podium, where they embraced and shared a kiss.
Appearing this week as a guest on Late Night With Seth Meyers, Buttigieg explored the significance of that brief public display of affection.
“If nothing else,” he said, “even in this dark and complicated and bleak moment in American politics, it’s a reason to be hopeful.”
“Running for office is an act of hope,” Buttigieg continued. “You don’t do it unless you believe that it’s at least possible, using all of the mechanics of the political system to make better things happen. And as somebody whose marriage exists because nine women and men sat and took a vote and by the grace of one vote we get to be married now, I understand how the decisions that are made in those big white buildings really affect our lives.”
“The idea that at the beginning of this decade I had a choice. I could either be out or I could be in the military. I could either be out, or I could run for elected office—at least that’s how I viewed it at the time. And the idea that just a few years later I announce a campaign for the American presidency and my husband comes out on the stage to be with me after I do it, just shows you what’s possible in this country.”
— Late Night with Seth Meyers (@LateNightSeth) April 19, 2019
During a January press conference, Buttigieg described his marriage as “the most important thing in my life.”
Born in South Bend, Indiana’s fourth largest city with roughly 100,000 residents, Buttigieg is a Harvard graduate, a Rhodes scholar, and a veteran Naval lieutenant who served in Afghanistan. He was elected mayor in 2011 and, despite governing as a progressive Democrat in a very red state, was reelected for a second term.
Buttigieg came out publicly as gay in an open letter printed in the South Bend Tribune in 2015, shortly before the Supreme Court’s ruling on federal marriage equality, making him Indiana’s first openly gay executive and that state’s highest elected official to come out.
If Buttigieg wins the Democratic nomination, he would become the first openly gay presidential nominee from a major political party. Fred Karger’s bid for the 2012 Republican nomination made him the first openly gay major party presidential candidate.
The presidential hopeful has surged to third place in early Iowa and New Hampshire popularity polls of Democratic voters, behind Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.
Earlier this month at the LGBTQ Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch, Buttigieg said he wished the “Mike Pences of the world would understand that if you’ve got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me—your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.”
The progressive Christian candidate later addressed Vice President and former Indiana Governor Pence’s comments accusing Buttigieg of criticizing Pence’s faith. “I don’t have a problem with religion,” he told Ellen DeGeneres. “I’m religious, too. I have a problem with religion being used as a justification to harm people, and especially in the LGBTQ community.”
Watch Buttigieg on Late Night With Seth Meyers below.