United midfielder Collin Martin plays against Saprissa in an international friendly match in 2018.

BLAINE, Minn. — Minnesota United midfielder Collin Martin, the only publicly gay male athlete in major U.S. team sports, voiced his support Wednesday, Oct. 9, for Pete Buttigieg’s candidacy for president.

Martin said in social media posts he was “proud to endorse” the South Bend, Ind., mayor’s bid for Democratic party’s nomination.

Buttigieg is the first openly gay presidential candidate to mount a mainstream campaign, with LGBTQ rights as one of his major policy points. The first link on the home page of his campaign web site is “Becoming Whole: A new era for LGBTQ+ people in America.”

“Now more than ever, we need a president who will protect and defend LGBTQ rights as if they were his own,” Martin wrote in a message on Twitter and Instagram. “Pete represents a new generation of leadership that our country deserves.

“I’m so proud to back Pete’s historic campaign and to see an openly gay man of faith welcomed on that 2020 debate stage for exactly who he is.”

Martin’s message comes as the U.S. Supreme Court heard two cases this week pertaining to workplace discrimination claims about sexual orientation and transgender issues.

“Athletes like me are told to keep quiet about politics, but I refuse to sit on the sidelines when my community is under attack, especially by politicians who use faith as an excuse to discriminate,” Martin wrote. As a member of the Episcopal Church, he said, he found it difficult to “live my truth.”

Martin, a 24-year-old Maryland native who publicly revealed his sexual orientation in June, posted the message while holding a copy of Buttigieg’s autobiography “Shortest Way Home.”

“Thank you, Collin,” Buttigieg replied on Twitter. “We’re building a movement to meet this moment and a future where all Americans belong. I’m proud to have you on our team.”

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