Waushara County Gay Youth Have Positive Role Model In Pete Buttigieg, Non-Verbalized Lesson Mighty Important In Coloma

On Tuesday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was in Waushara County. There are many reasons to cheer when a cabinet officer visits any small community, but in this case, there is an unstated reason which deserves comment.

As one of the crafters and motivating voices in the passage of the much-needed $1.2 trillion infrastructure law passed last year, Buttigieg is now visiting places across the country helping locals understand the goals to be achieved. Coloma was where ‘Mayor Pete’ spoke about the construction trades that will need more workers as a result of the federal dollars being pumped into local economies.

The visit was aimed to talk about the national investment into our infrastructure on the day that high school students from around Wisconsin were able to get a first-hand look at the operation of heavy machinery, hands-on experience with mini-excavators, and meetings with industry professionals about apprenticeships.

And with the ample projects that are needed to be completed around Wisconsin, it goes without saying that the industry needs workers.

Buttigieg being in heavily Republican and conservative Waushara County allowed for something else to manifest itself, in addition to infrastructure needs. High school students who may come from homes where gay people are belittled or laughed at had an opportunity to see an openly married gay man with children. who ran for president. and now serves as a top federal officeholder.

Without a doubt, and statistically speaking, there were a few gay students in attendance on Tuesday. Having grown up in that county–in fact, about 10 miles from Coloma–I well know the tone and type that reside in this rural part of Wisconsin. That is not snarky wording but just a plain fact.

So I can also clearly state the non-verbalized lessons for gay youth concerning the power and potential for their personal lives were a lesson they were able to see up close. Whatever information they may have gleaned about potential jobs is far less important than the fact that living authentically matters.

All the snide comments and bigotry in these small towns can not stain the truth when Buttigieg walks up, smiles, and shakes your hand. It does not take your average student very long to discern the truth. The folks back home with their bigotry were just wrong.

Gay youth in these small towns must learn they can live their lives and have every single part of the American dream, from spouses to kids, just like their fellow classmates. Just like Pete Buttigieg.

When I grew up it would have been helpful to have had openly gay role models. Rural Wisconsin had such a man among them today. Thanks, Pete Buttigieg for just being you.

And so it goes.

Politics Needlessly Ugly, Anti-Gay Statement Proves Point

There is every reason to have robust discussions about paying for broadband access, how to green our nation’s energy supplies, and what might be the best path forward when dealing with a rejuvenated Taliban. There are, and should be energized views and forceful presentations of those opinions.

That frothy nature of our dialogue has been the standard since we threw off King George III. And it is a healthy part of our republic.

But it is the most ridiculous and purposefully divisive rhetoric, far from the issues, that we too often hear that causes for the further polarizing of the nation.

Such was the case recently when Fox News’s Tucker Carlson mocked Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for doing exactly what millions of other Americans do every year. The very same program that citizens desire and elected officials recognize as most prudent Carlson openly mocked.

Paternity leave.

Carlson who usually plays on the shallow end of the swimming pool could not contain himself over the idea that two male married parents were raising adopted children. He quipped that Pete and his husband, Chasten Buttigieg, were “trying to figure out how to breastfeed.”

That surely made for guffaws around the nation for the low-brow who make a habit of watching such dribble on television. The anti-gay backslap was not lost on the ones who first read about it in news accounts.

The great social swing in this nation on a host of issues from racial accountability, gay marriage, transgender issues, women’s rights, and caring for refugees has left a swath of mostly rural caucasian Americans wondering what happened to their Archie Bunker world. No more smoking in a diner, slapping a waitress on the backside, and using racial slurs as a punchline.

This nation has made some fine and needed steps to structure much of the nation from our neighborhoods to the floors of the United States Senate to reflect our more rational side as a society. So, why then, do some national commentators and an entire ‘news’ network seem unaware that we are well into the 21st century?

I do not think there is a legitimate argument against paternity leave. The bonding between the child(ren) and parents has been proven to be most important in the early weeks of life. But even if someone wanted to play to the far side of the field on the issue why make an anti-gay slam as Carlson did?

What troubles Carlson, and others like him, is the normalcy that comes with gay marriage, gay parents raising children, and the seamless blending that has occurred in communities nationwide. All the wild-eyed lingo from the right-wing about gay rights folded like a wet house of cards.

But people like Tucker Carlson hold onto their prejudices like a raccoon to a late-night find in a garbage can. When they take those views public, however, and feed the base with them it continues to stunt the needed growth among that segment of the nation who keep falling farther behind the majority.

And so it goes.

Thanks Mayor Pete!

Joe Biden wins again this weekend, though it comes with the removal of a man from the presidential race whom I much admired. As a gay man I was never so proud of any other person seeking the highest office in my lifetime.

Mayor Pete’s intellect and personality were the stuff that made me pay heed to his candidacy. His being a gay man, who spoke candidly about coming out and finding the love of his life and marrying, allowed our nation to take yet one more step forward.

My politics has been with Biden since 1987, and Pete’s moderate and policy-driven candidacy allowed me to gravitate towards his ideas for the White Hose. With Pete taking a move today to end his race gives Biden a stronger hand moving forward. I posted last night we needed two more candidates to leave the race, and now one more remains…Minnesota’s Senator.


New Hampshire ‘Independents’ Ready To Make Their Mark


When reading on Sunday a New York Times book review for Why We’re Polarized by Erza Klein I came across this line which connects with the top story we will be following in this nation for the remainder of the year.  It also underscores something I firmly believe.

Just as stunning, another researcher, the political scientist Corwin Smidt, found that today’s self-proclaimed independents “vote more predictably for one party over another than yesteryear’s partisans.”

I have long contended that the number of actual independent voters is quite small.  Voters know what they plan to do on any election day while playing coy with pollsters and some reporters.  They do this for reasons ranging from not wanting to reveal their true feelings while others just like the attention.  But they know if they swing to the Democrats or Republicans, or liberal or conservative philosophy.  They are as party-oriented as the rest of us.   They just wish not to look like they are in the partisan muck.

This brings us to the New Hampshire primary Tuesday and what these ‘independent’ voters plan to do.  An NBC News/Marist poll from late last week shows how Bernie Sanders may be scoring fewer of these Democratic voters—who call themselves independent—-by a stunning degree when compared with the last presidential primary election.  In 2016, Bernie Sanders won a whopping 73% of these voters.

Sanders received just 22% of them in the poll compared with Buttigieg at 25% and Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren at 10% apiece.

Factor in the Republican voters who will play on the Democratic ballot playground and we have a most interesting evening awaiting us in New Hampshire.  While Sanders will prevail in the state the margin by which he wins will not be as pronounced as four years ago.  Buttigieg has been smart and tone savvy on the campaign trail.  Amy Klobuchar was very good in the debate–I would argue it was her best performance.  She will make further gains Tuesday and will demonstrate why she is one of the two best choices for the vice-presidential nomination.

That is not an insult to the Minnesota Senator, but one of praise.   A woman needs to be on the ticket in November and she has the intellect and campaign abilities that will be required for the election.  Senator Harris is also, in my estimation, equally suited for the ticket.  I much respect them both.

Now we just need to wait for the moderates taking off in three directions in New Hampshire and see how it all shakes out.  After Tuesday there will be a need for the party to come to better terms with planning on how to stop Sanders.

America At Its Best

Not words are needed.



Being Proud Of A Gay American Running For President

As the Iowa caucuses are soon to get underway (as of this writing) there are many ways to view the candidates.  They can be arranged according to how they match the needs of the time, show abilities for the general election, or might govern if elected.   We all have our top tier and those we could abide if chosen as the nominee.

But for me, there is one other perspective when gauging a candidate this election cycle.  As a gay man, I have paid much attention while watching another gay man run for the presidential nomination of my party.   There is, for me, a deep sense of pride in watching the campaign of Pete Buttigieg.  In the span of a few decades, I have gone from being the object of redneck bullying in high school for just having been assumed to be gay, to now living in the  20th-year of a relationship with my husband.  I have seen society move from outright gay bigotry to a place where social norms are creating acceptance and tolerance in ways I never could have dreamed as I literally viewed the world from inside a locker as thick-necked farm boys kicked the metal door from the outside.

I came out of the closet partly while in broadcasting school and then completely a few years later after moving to Madison.  I never felt better as a person than when I lived life authentically.   I know what it was like to have lived a closeted life for a number of years, and the freedom that comes with throwing off the yoke of others people’s expectations and asserting my own personal narrative.

That is what I see when I watch Mayor Pete.  I see the journey, I feel the journey.  I have lived that journey as a gay man.  I have watched how some in both politics and the press have responded or reported on his being gay.  I am not thin-skinned but have bristled at times when the tone seems wrong to me and I wonder if it is due to just the heat of politics or some coded way of not understanding the life he lived and the paths he needed to take to be able to stand as tall and proud as anyone else who entered the race.

The path Pete has taken–and yes, in some kindred type of way I think it fine for me to call him Pete–is historic.  His race for the White House as a gay man who has a husband, kisses him in public, shares stories about their family life, and knows that he is just as able and ready to meet the requirements of office as any other contender sends a very loud message to all the young gay kids in the nation.   The message is this: be true to yourself and the rest will follow.  Do not allow for the bigoted ones who would look you in the eye as they argue 100 is a perfect IQ score to define you as a person or limit where you will travel in your life.

Pete has broken down barriers.  He is a Christian veteran gay American.  And he is seeking his party’s nomination.   He has made me proud as a citizen, and as a gay man.

I still at times have bad dreams about the inside of a locker.  I suspect I always will.  But over the past months, I have thought about that episode with the imaginary sound of a louder kick in return.  A gay president who sits in the Oval Office and makes the kind of social statement that will be loud enough for all the rednecks to hear.

Yes, that day will come.  Maybe not this year.  But it will happen.  Pete has prepared the road for that eventuality.


Pete Buttigieg in Classic Campaign Mode

Former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg gets his nose pulled by a baby on caucus day.  I love this series of photos as this reminds me of the way campaigns should be structured so the moods of the candidate and the real-world indications of the voters can be viewed.





Pete Buttigieg Crafting Message For National Race

What creates a winning hand, with a diverse electorate, is always the key when it comes to waging a fight for the presidential nomination.  Pete Buttigieg has intrigued me, again and again, with his tone and ‘sales pitch’ as he works for a win in Iowa.  He is very intelligent and that impresses me greatly.  But he is also proving to have a skill set with campaigning which is most important to what will be required for a Democrat to prevail in 2020.  What he is doing in Iowa will play well for large swaths of the nation.  Watch his messaging in the next few weeks.

As Mr. Buttigieg, 37, looks to solidify his support in the remaining weeks before the Democratic primary season begins, he has found a wellspring of enthusiasm among a critical bloc of voters more frequently associated with Joseph Biden: older white Americans.”

“During a burst of campaign stops in Iowa this week, his first trip to the state since a Des Moines Register/CNN poll showed him with a commanding, nine-point lead here, Mr. Buttigieg repeatedly made appeals to older Iowans that were hardly subtle. ‘We’ve got to act not just to shore up Social Security but to make sure everybody can retire and live in dignity,’ he said at a rally on Monday evening in Council Bluffs, Iowa. ‘Call it my ‘Gray New Deal.’’