Pete Buttigieg – a.k.a. Mayor Pete – became America’s first openly LGBT+ cabinet member on Tuesday (2 February) when he was confirmed as secretary of transportation by a vote of 86-13.
All of the 13 lawmakers who sought to block Pete Buttigieg are Republicans, almost exclusively from the South – and almost all are overtly anti-gay.
The votes came from senators Richard Shelby and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama; Tom Cotton of Arkansas; Marco Rubio and Rick Scott of Florida; Roger Marshall of Kansas; Bill Cassidy of Louisiana; Josh Hawley of Missouri; James Lankford of Oklahoma; Tim Scott of South Carolina; Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty of Tennessee.
And last but not least, Ted Cruz of Texas.
Most of the sorry anti-Pete-Buttigieg list were scored zero on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard, which grades members of Congress on their support for LGBT+ rights, or lack thereof. Only Tuberville and Hagerty didn’t receive zero, because they have not been in elected office long enough.
Eight of the senators have explicitly opposed same-sex marriage; one of the few who hasn’t, Josh Hawley, has instead pledged to aid officials who oppose it. Almost all back religious freedom and the right to discriminate against LGBT+ people.
One senator, Florida’s Rick Scott, expressed comparatively progressive views in the wake of the Pulse massacre, but even his sincerity has been questionedby the LGBT+ community.
The most egregious anti-LGBT+ record undoubtedly belongs to Ted Cruz, who has spent most of his political career fighting against equality.
The Texas Republican is known as one of the most virulent opponents of LGBT+ rights in the Senate, whether he’s opposing equal marriage and adoption, smearing transgender people, hanging around with conversion therapists or minimising homophobic bullying.
Back in 2017 Cruz joined forces with another of Buttigieg’s opponents, Marco Rubio, in calling for Trump to implement an anti-LGBT+ order to permit discrimination.
This deeply homophobic bill was also signed by James Lankford, Bill Cassidy and Tim Scott – three more names who voted against Buttigieg, a coincidence so predictable it stretches the definition of the word.
Meanwhile Marsha Blackburn co-chaired the committee that drafted the 2012 Republican platform, considered the most anti-gay in history.
And then there’s Tom Cotton, who’s previously argued that LGBT+ people can’t complain about discrimination in the US because they’d be hanged in Iran. “I think it’s important that we have a sense of perspective,” he said empathetically in 2017.
We couldn’t possibly say whether their votes against Buttigieg were motivated by anti-LGBT+ sentiment, but their political records certainly speak for themselves.