Buttigieg is blazing trails for LGBTQ equality

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If confirmed by the United States Senate, Pete Buttigieg will make history as the first openly LGBTQ person confirmed to a Cabinet position. He will become one of the most powerful openly LGBTQ public servants in America appointed by the most pro-equality ticket our nation has seen. 

But this chapter in history will not be defined by the history we have made by getting here. It will be defined by the actions we take now — to make sure that the people in power at all levels of the administration reflect our nation’s full diversity and that this power is harnessed to deliver for the diverse communities they have been called to represent. 

In the Democratic primary, Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., ran a powerful campaign that broke glass ceilings and inspired countless LGBTQ people to run for office and enter public service. He gave voice to millions and to issues often ignored. And as Transportation secretary, his voice as a champion for the LGBTQ community in the Cabinet room would undoubtedly help President-elect Joe Biden build back our nation better and more equal than before. 

And this is rebuilding that cannot wait — not for our community and countless others. The Trump administration from day one has systematically targeted LGBTQ people — undermining our rights, jeopardizing our lives, seeking to erase us entirely. In their actions and in their endorsement of discriminatory ideologies, they have worsened existing crises for the most marginalized. 

Last year saw record breaking violence against the transgender community, with at least 43 transgender or gender non-conforming people killed, the majority of which were Black and Latinx transgender women. And in Trump’s botched handling of the COVID-19 crisis, LGBTQ people — particularly trans people and LGBTQ of color — have been disproportionately impacted. In a time when millions are going hungry, facing eviction, forced into low-paying jobs that put them at risk, we know that Black and Latinx people, including Black and Latinx LGBTQ people, are paying the heaviest price. Under the burden of systemic injustice, many are being pushed to the brink. 

To help address these crises and others, we have provided the incoming administration with a comprehensive roadmap. Our Blueprint for Positive Change 2020 includes more than 85 individual policy recommendations aimed at bettering the daily lives of LGBTQ people at home and abroad. Importantly, these recommendations do not require any action by Congress. But by implementing them, and doing so swiftly, the administration would significantly improve LGBTQ lives. 

Policy will be crucial — as will the people in leadership guiding how policies are put into place. We have and will continue to engage with the Transition team to ensure that LGBTQ people will be appointed at all levels of government andd that those appointments will reflect the full diversity of our community, including and especially LGBTQ people of color and transgender and gender non-conforming people. We must ensure the full tapestry of our community’s voices are represented and heard. 

This is not only the urgent charge of the incoming administration —- it is the critical work ahead for our movement. For too long, the LGBTQ movement has failed to recognize the full diversity of our community and failed to prioritize the needs of the most marginalized. The LGBTQ movement has not done enough to protect, empower and listen to the transgender community — particularly those who are Black and Latinx. LGBTQ people of color and our issues have been sidelined by a movement that has fallen into the same traps of discrimination and indifference that has corrupted our core institutions. 

For our movement to advance, for our nation to heal, we will need to reckon with white supremacy and all the systems of oppression that have divided us for too long. This past election puts us back on the path towards hope and progress. But the only way we will move forward on that path is by addressing the bedrock injustices in our democracy with the same urgency that we put into winning our democracy back.

We fought for a pro-equality White House to help us build a nation that is more just, more, equitable and more free. But as Biden, Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris and Buttigieg understand full well, our building has only begun. 

Together, we will fight to deliver on the promise of equality not in the abstract but in lived experiences — a government by the people, for the people, of the people. 

Alphonso David is the president of the Human Rights Campaign. Follow him on Twitter @alphonsodavid.

Tags anti-LGBTQ biden administration Biden Cabinet picks Black community Diversity Joe Biden Latinx community LGBTQ LGBTQ issues Pete Buttigieg transgender violence transgender women Transportation Secretary Trump administration

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