Speaking at an event in Wilmington, Delaware, on Wednesday, Buttigieg described his “personal love of transportation” before noting that he proposed to his now husband, Chasten, at one of the airport’s terminals.
“Travel in my mind is synonymous with growth, with adventure — even love. So much so that I proposed to my husband Chasten in an airport terminal,” he said. “Don’t let anybody tell you that O’Hare isn’t romantic.”
The airport quickly reciprocated the message, tweeting: “Thank you for appreciating all the connections we make possible, @PeteButtigieg. Looking forward to working with you as we continue to make our airport lovable for decades to come.”
United Airlines similarly embraced Buttigieg’s comments, tweeting a photo of Gate B5, the spot where he proposed.
“It was B5,” the airline said. “Proof that love actually is all around.”
Buttigieg wrote in his 2019 memoir “Shortest Way Home” that he chose to propose at Gate B5 because it was where Chasten “said he was killing time between herds of exchange students when he first noticed my profile on his phone and began chatting with me.”
“This won’t sound romantic to those who don’t know us, but I had selected the place behind the gate agent’s desk, a three-foot-wide zone against the window where you have something resembling privacy while looking out on the tarmac. In a way, O’Hare had brought us together,” he said.
“Plus, the halfway-secluded space in the midst of the busy concourse was symbolic for how our life together would be.”
If confirmed by the US Senate, Buttigieg would be the first out LGBTQ Cabinet secretary approved by the chamber.
He said Wednesday that he remembered watching as a teenager when James Hormel was attacked and denied a vote in the Senate to serve as President Bill Clinton’s ambassador to Luxembourg because he was gay. (Clinton ended up appointing Hormel through a recess appointment.)
“Two decades later, I can’t help but think of a 17-year-old somewhere who might be watching us right now, somebody who wonders whether and where they belong in the world, or even in their own family. And I’m thinking about the message that today’s announcement is sending to them,” Buttigieg said.
CNN’s Kate Sullivan contributed to this report.