Pete Buttigieg at the Senate confirmation hearing with his husband Chasten behind himPhoto: Screenshot/ABC News
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, the first out officially confirmed member of a Presidential cabinet, sat down to discuss how his first month has been on the job.
“You can really feel the history swirling around us when the vice president was swearing me in with my husband, Chasten, at my side,” Buttigieg recalled from his historic swearing-in earlier this month that broke barriers.
Buttigieg sat for a one-on-one with NBC News correspondent Savannah Sellers, discussing how the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana became the first openly gay Senate-confirmed Cabinet secretary in American history.
In the segment that first aired on February 19, Buttigieg also detailed his plans for improving America’s travel infrastructure and what it’s like being the youngest Cabinet member at age 39.
“There have been times in living memory where you couldn’t have any job in the federal government if you were gay,” Buttigieg, who served in the military under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” said.
“Thousands of people lost their jobs, lost their livelihoods because of that kind of discrimination, so it’s a really encouraging sign about the change that can happen but also a reminder that we’ve got a long way to go.”
When asked if he ever felt “imposter syndrome,” Buttigieg replied, “I think you’d be crazy not to.”
“When you find yourself standing next to the people that ran for President, of course you’d wonder if you’re measuring up,” he admitted.
Asked how he would respond to criticisms of him and how he rose to the Secretary of Transportation, he told Sellers that “the great thing about public service is that you have an opportunity to deliver.”
“If you do a good job, nobody cares how old you are, nobody cares if you’re gay, nobody cares about anything in your life so much as you’re making their lives better.”
Buttigieg didn’t address any rumors about future Presidential runs, telling Sellers that the only year he’s focused on is “2021” — the current one.
Buttigieg also talked about being a Christian that envisions a “more inclusive vision of what faith can be.”
“As a married gay man and as a believer, I think about this a lot, and sometimes I do feel like we have to sort of defend the LGBTQ community within the church,” he said.
“Then again, there are a lot of times when I feel like I’m defending the church in the LGBTQ community or the progressives — especially because there are so many people in our community whose experience with faith or with religion is one of exclusion and one of hurt.”
After running in the Democratic presidential primary last year and becoming the first out candidate to win a state’s primary, Buttigieg went on to become a fierce advocate for the Biden/Harris campaign.
On February 2, the Senate confirmed him as Secretary of Transportation by a bipartisan vote of 86 to 13. All 13 votes in opposition came from Republicans from conservative states, and each has a long history of opposing LGBTQ rights.
Outside of now Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary Buttigieg is the only former 2020 presidential candidate to earn a spot in the Biden Cabinet so far.