Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg is set to make history as the first openly gay candidate to take part in the US Presidential Debates.
In what is a packed field of Democratic candidates, Buttigieg will join 20 of his contemporaries on the debate stage.
The First Democratic Presidential Primary Debate will take place on 26-27 June in Miami, Florida.
Buttigieg has seen a surge in popularity since announcing his intention to run for president in January.
Recent polls have also found that 70% of voters would be willing to vote for a gay candidate for president.
However, the same polls found that most US voters do not expect to see a gay person become president any time soon.
The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, was one of the candidates who ‘double-qualified’ for the debating stage, The Advocate reports.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) states that candidates must meet one of the two criteria to take place in Presidential Debates: either by polling at a certain level, or securing enough grassroots funding.
Candidates must poll at least 1% in three separate recognized polls before 12 June to qualify. Alternatively, the candidates must receive donations from 65,000 individual donors, with 200 coming from 20 different states.
Despite starting out as an unknown, Buttigieg has gone on to poll consistently at third or fourth place in the list of Democratic candidates.
His campaign also met the donor quota in March, thereby ‘doubly-qualifying’ Buttigieg for participation in the debates.
Not the first openly gay candidate
While Buttigieg’s appearance in the debates will be a huge milestone for LGBTI representation in the US, the 37-year-old is not the first openly gay candidate to run for president.
That title went to Fred Karger, who ran as a Republican candidate in the 2012 presidential elections.
However, Karger never made it to the debate stage.
In an essay for The Advocate, Karger said that during his 2012 run he experienced widespread backlash and alienation from fellow Republicans because of his sexuality.
Despite polling alongside candidates who did participate in the presidential debates, such as Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum, Karger claimed he was denied entry into all of the Republican debates.
Karger has since endorsed Buttigieg’s run for president.
Movement in the polls
Former Vice President Joe Biden remains the clear favorite to take on current President Donald Trump in 2020, with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders consistently polling at second place.
However, both Biden and Sanders have dropped in the polls in recent weeks.
In turn, Buttigieg and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren have both seen their support increase.
Recent findings from the CNN/Des Moines Register Iowa poll showed Biden in front with 24%, followed by Sanders at 16%, Warren at 15%, and Buttigieg in fourth place at 14%.
A Quinnipiac University poll from earlier this month suggested that at their current standing, the five leading Democratic presidential candidates would beat Trump in an election.
The full list of the other candidates to make the debating stage are:
- Former Vice President Joe Biden
- Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders
- Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren
- California Senator Kamala Harris
- New Jersey Senator Cory Booker
- Former Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke
- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
- Colorado Senator Michael Bennet
- New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
- Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro
- Former Maryland Representative John Delaney
- Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard
- Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper
- Washington Governor Jay Inslee
- Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar
- Ohio Representative Tim Ryan
- California Representative Eric Swalwell
- Marianne Williamson, author
- Andrew Yang, philanthropist