Biden names Buttigieg to cabinet in a first for an openly gay person

Buttigieg’s selection is in line with Biden’s promise to name a cabinet that reflects the diversity of the country.
A file photo of Pete Buttigieg endorsing Joe Biden at Chicken Scratch in Dallas, Texas on March 2,(REUTERS)
A file photo of Pete Buttigieg endorsing Joe Biden at Chicken Scratch in Dallas, Texas on March 2,(REUTERS)
Updated on Dec 16, 2020 11:54 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Washington | ByYashwant Raj , edited by Vinod Janardhanan

US President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Pete Buttigieg, the openly gay former mayor, as his transportation secretary. If confirmed, he will be the first LGBTQ person to hold a cabinet post in the country.

Biden has also decided to name Jennifer Granholm, the former governor of Michigan, to head the department of energy, which is entrusted with the upkeep of the country’s nuclear arsenal. And Gina McCarthy, former head of the Environment Protection Agency under President Barack Obama, will be Biden’s domestic climate policy chief.

Buttigieg and Granholm, who had not been officially announced yet, will have to be confirmed by the US Senate.

Biden said in a statement he was appointing Buttigieg transportation secretary because “this position stands at the nexus of so many of the interlocking challenges and opportunities ahead of us. Jobs, infrastructure, equity, and climate all come together at the DOT, the site of some of our most ambitious plans to build back better”.

“This is a moment of tremendous opportunity—to create jobs, meet the climate challenge, and enhance equity for all,” Buttigieg said in a tweet. “I’m honored that the President-elect has asked me to serve our nation as secretary of transportation.”

Buttigieg’s selection is in line with Biden’s promise to name a cabinet that reflects the diversity of the country. He will be joining Neera Tanden, the first Indian American named cabinet secretary to head the budget department; Janet Yellen, the first woman treasury secretary; Lloyd Austin, the first African American nominated for defence secretary; Katherine Tai, the first Taiwanese American named US Trade Representative; and Xavier Becerra and Alejandro Mayorkas, the first Latinos to head the departments of health and homeland security respectively. And, of course, Kamala Harris, the first black, woman, Asian American and Indian American vice-president.

“When confirmed, Pete will soon make history as the first Senate-confirmed, openly LGBTQ member of the cabinet -- a milestone worth celebrating,” said Alphonso David, president of Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ advocacy in the United States, in a tweet.

The former mayor of South Bend in Indiana state, who is married to Chasten Buttigieg, shot into national prominence as a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, going up against stalwarts Biden, a former vice-president then, and Senators Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. He became the first openly gay person to win a presidential primary/caucus, picking up Iowa.

Buttigieg was among the first bunch of candidates who left the race and endorsed Biden after the former vice-president won the South Carolina primary, which put him on the path to the nomination and, eventually, the White House.

Buttigieg is a former military intelligence officer who served in Afghanistan in 2014. He graduated from Harvard and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University.

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Monday, November 29, 2021