January 9, 2020 at 2:35 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
Rep. Brown becomes first black member of Congress to endorse Buttigieg
U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.) endorsed Pete Buttigieg, citing his military experience. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.), who has made LGBTQ rights a cornerstone of his congressional career, on Thursday endorsed Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg, becoming the first black member of Congress to endorse the gay presidential hopeful.

“Our country needs a president who can heal our divides and restore decency to our nation’s highest office,” Brown said in a statement. “Pete’s message is not defined by exclusion but welcomes everyone into the fight to tackle our nation’s greatest challenges. As we fight for the future of the soul of our country here at home, we also remain entangled in endless wars abroad and the threats to American lives and interests around the world have increased.”

Key to Brown’s endorsement of the gay presidential candidate was military experience. Brown, a veteran of the Iraq war, served for three decades in the Army and Army Reserve, while Buttigieg is an Afghanistan war veteran.

“After serving three decades in the Army and Army Reserve and now as vice chair of the House Armed Services Committee, I’m acutely aware that the top priority for the president should be the security and safety of our nation, which is why my choice for president is Mayor Pete Buttigieg,” Brown said.

The endorsement from Brown, who’s a member of the Congressional Black Congress, is boon for Buttigieg, who has struggled to win support among black Democrats.

Buttigieg in a statement thanking Brown for his endorsement cited the Maryland Democrat’s record of service in the military and Congress.

“As a veteran of the Iraq War, Congressman Brown understands firsthand the gravity of the decisions that are made in Washington,” Buttigieg said. “Congressman Brown has been a leader in rejecting the political warfare we have come to expect from Washington, focused on keeping our nation safe while working to end endless wars, boosting workforce development, and make sure we have an economy that works for everyone. I am honored to have Congressman Brown’s endorsement and am thrilled to have him co-chair my campaign, as we work together to heal our nation’s divides and restore decency and respect to the presidency so that we can get to work on the urgent issues facing our country.”

Brown, who spoke in 2018 at Pentagon’s annual Pride event, has been outspoken against President Trump’s ban on transgender military service. He was a co-sponsor of Rep. Jackie Speier’s (D-Calif.) amendment to prohibit anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the U.S. military in the fiscal year 2020 defense authorization bill, which ultimately wasn’t part of the legislation, and introduced an amendment requiring the Pentagon to issue a report on the number of waivers granted under the anti-trans policy, which was approved as part of the final bill signed into law.

The Maryland Democrat has also introduced legislation known as the Fair Pay for All Act, which is aimed at ensuring LGBTQ workers obtain pay equal to their non-LGBTQ counterparts.

Brown is the latest in a series of members of Congress to endorse Buttigieg. The first was Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), while others are Reps. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) and Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.). Former Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), who championed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal as a member of Congress, has also endorsed Buttigieg.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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