SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WFFT) - South Bend Democratic Mayor Pete Buttigieg announced Wednesday he will form an exploratory committee for a potential 2020 presidential run.
Buttigieg, 37, is a veteran, serving as a Naval Intelligence Officer in Afghanistan, a Harvard graduate, and a Rhodes Scholar. If elected, he would also be the first openly gay president of the United States.
Buttigieg announced his plans in a two minute video, highlighting the goal to move forward to achieve greatness, rather than looking back.
”We’ve seen an increase in people of color that have run for office and have been elected, and now the next group that we’re seeing are LGBT persons," said Jeannie DiClementi, an associate professor at Purdue Fort Wayne, and the faculty advisor of the campus' LGBTQ Resource Center.
DiClementi said the increase in LGBTQ candidates in the past year, known as the, 'Rainbow Wave,' comes in the wake of pullbacks on LGBTQ rights.
”I think it’s sort of a natural response to that," she said.
This week the Supreme Court revived a ban on trans people in the military while cases concerning the issue move through the court.
Dana Black, president of the Indiana Stonewall Democrats, told FOX 55 on the phone it was a huge win for the LGBTQ community when more than 150 openly gay or trans people won elections in November.
”What we are saying is we are tax paying citizens and we matter. People are making rules and passing legislation and passing laws that impact our lives, and we should have a seat at the table," Black said.
DiClementi said a common misconception is that LGBTQ candidates will only speak for that community, but Buttigieg described his fight on several issues in the video.
"People are figuring out that we need strong leaders that advocate for not just LGBTQ persons, but all marginalized populations," Black said.
If Buttigieg is not a front runner, DeClementi said she still encourages people to take an interest in the potential candidates.
”I tell my students all the time that no matter how seemly insignificant an action that we take today [is], you never know the positive consequences it's going to have down the road," she said.