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Opening Arguments

Gay in South Bend

As noted in an earlier post, this country has likely already had a gay president, or at least a bisexual one, in James Buchanan. Of course, that's back when sexuality wasn't even talked about, let alone celebrated. If anyone had known about Buchan's sexual nature, he wouldn't have gotten near the White House.

The question today is whether a mayor who comes out as gay can win re-elction here in conservative, RFRA-loving Indiana. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is going to find out:

Putting something this personal on the pages of a newspaper does not come easy. We Midwesterners are instinctively private to begin with, and I’m not used to viewing this as anyone else’s business.

But it’s clear to me that at a moment like this, being more open about it could do some good. For a local student struggling with her sexuality, it might be helpful for an openly gay mayor to send the message that her community will always have a place for her. And for a conservative resident from a different generation, whose unease with social change is partly rooted in the impression that he doesn’t know anyone gay, perhaps a familiar face can be a reminder that we’re all in this together as a community.

Of course, some people will vote for him simply because he is gay -- they don't call it "identity politics" for nothing. Hillary Clinton will get some votes just because she's a woman, which Hillary is naturally encouraging ("I will be the youngest woman who has ever been president"). That would be just as wrong as voting against the mayor because he's gay, as Buttigieg himself might acknowledge.

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.

But the mayor has probably stepped a little into non-PC territory with those remarks. If you say being gay has no bearing on qualifications, that means being straight doesn't, either. And that's just a little too neutral for today's social justice warriors. Calling America the "land of opportunity," after all, is seen as a microaggression because it can be interpreted by minorities as a demand to inegrate with the dominant culture. "I believe the most qualified person should get the job" is also a mocroaggression because it implies that the playing field is level so if someone doesn't get a job it must be his fault.


Larry Morris
Wed, 06/17/2015 - 2:45pm

I am also happy in Wimberley ... :-)