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.”

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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. It was also shared on the eve of President Donald Trump’s campaign rally at Target Center on Thursday.

“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.”

Martin has played in three MLS games for the Loons this season and has had stints on loan with the Hartford (Conn.) Athletic of the lower-level USL Championship division. He played in 23 games combined for Minnesota in the 2017 and 2018 seasons.FIFA’s two-week break for national-team games will keep a handful of key Minnesota United players away from preparations for the MLS Cup playoff first-round game against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Oct. 20 at Allianz Field.

Loons on national duty

Six total players are with their respective national teams, five of them expected to be key contributors against the Galaxy. Four are not expected back for training in Blaine until next Thursday — only three days before the club’s first playoff game.

Defensive midfielder Hassani Dotson and striker Mason Toye are with the U.S. under-23 team and will fly back from Miami on Wednesday and likely be available for training on Thursday, so are winger Robin Lod and backup midfielder Rasmus Schuller, who are with Finland’s team.

Trinidad and Tobago attacking midfielder Kevin Molino will come back first, skipping a friendly against Venezuela to train on Monday. Slovakian central midfielder Jan Gregus will return to likely train Tuesday.

Right back Romain Metanire didn’t travel to play for Madagascar and trained with the Loons on Thursday.

The club will practice Friday before taking the weekend off and reconvening Monday.

Briefly

United coach Adrian Heath said he has heard positive reports on the new grass installed at Allianz Field, but he isn’t holding his breath on the grass’s condition after St. Thomas and St. John’s play a football game there Oct. 19. “I think we will wait and see how that goes,” Heath said.

United center backs Ike Opara and Wyatt Omsberg did not participate in Thursday’s training session.