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Obama misses opportunity to nominate first openly LGBT cabinet member

CHRIS JOHNSON | Washington Blade
Wednesday, February 6, 2013

President Obama has missed an opportunity to nominate for the first time an openly LGBT Cabinet member by reportedly passing over Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry for the role of interior secretary.

Multiple media outlets, including Politico, reported Wednesday morning that Obama intends to nominate Sally Jewell, president and CEO of the outdoor and recreational retailer REI, for the role of interior secretary. If confirmed by the Senate, she’ll replace outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

John Berry
Photo: Michael Key, Washington Blade

LGBT advocacy groups — including the Human Rights Campaign — have been pushing for Obama to make history by appointing an openly LGBT Cabinet member, and Berry was seen as a natural selection for the role of interior secretary. He has a background as as lower-level official in the Department of Interior during the Clinton administration and has directed the National Wildlife Federation and the National Zoo in D.C.

Additionally, Berry has served as an adviser on LGBT issues to President Obama since the start of the administration. The OPM director was present at the meeting in which White House officials informed LGBT advocates it won’t issue at this time an executive order barring LGBT workplace discrimination among federal contractors, and Berry also took part in a White House meeting with transgender advocates on the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

HRC and the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund declined to comment on the decision. Berry also had no comment.

Other Cabinet-level vacancies remain within the administration amid turnover at the start of Obama’s second term. The Washington Blade reported in December that the White House is “looking carefully” at gay U.S. Export-Import Bank Chair Fred Hochberg for the role of commerce secretary. While the Obama administration hasn’t yet seen a Cabinet-level appointment, at least 260 openly LGBT people have been appointed for other roles within the administration.

The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

© Washington Blade. Reprinted by permission.

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18 more reader comments:

  1. aw D; that sucks

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 1:32pm
  2. Or perhaps he just didn’t think that he was as qualified as the person he did nominate. Obama doesn’t have a duty to make the government run by gay people. What’s important is ability, not pandering.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 1:32pm
  3. This isn’t the only qualified LGBT person available for a cabinet post, though.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 1:34pm
  4. omg people! >.> Seriously? Maybe he wasn’t qualified or someone else was more qualified…

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 1:35pm
  5. I certainly wouldn’t elect or nominate someone simply for being Gay >.> I would prefer them to be qualified… God… I can only imagine what would happen if a Gay Candidate was running for president… And let’s imply that he’s horrible and not even qualified, if he’s not elected you’re all gonna shout “Hate Crime”… -_-

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 1:38pm
  6. Whoever is best for the job. Sexual orientation should have nothing to do with whether or not someone is nominated.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 1:39pm
  7. I’m Gay. So if I run for president, am I already gonna have all of your votes without even showing my potential? >.>

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 1:39pm
  8. Just because Im a lesbian doesn’t mean special treatment. Nor should it define who we are as a person. I agree w the others, probably wasnt qualified.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 1:42pm
  9. OK. I get it. BUT, with a President who has taken such a stand for equality, I must believe he chose whom he thought best suited for the job. I am actively pro-equality, but I certainly don’t want someone given a position solely because they’re gay.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 1:51pm
  10. LGBTQ Nation: Are you getting the message here?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 1:52pm
  11. yeah, I did some background research on the nominee, this is a non-story.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 1:57pm
  12. It sure would be helpful for me right now if i could obtain a job just by being gay : D

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 2:13pm
  13. Oh for God’s sake. Who cares? Nominations should have NOTHING to do with sexuality. We don’t need someone to hold an office because they’re gay. Just like shouldn’t be hired just because they’re black. They should hold the office because they’re qualified. We shouldn’t get special treatment, just equal treatment.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 2:15pm
  14. had he just given the job the LGBT member a job….that would have started a FIRE STORM, with those saying, that gays are wanting special rules/laws and such….imo, he was probably SMART not to give him the job……the president has ENOUGH haters as it is.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 2:17pm
  15. …who cares? I’m gay. Someone want to give me a job because I’m just as good as the other guy/gal who is applying for a jobl, but I’m gay so they give me the job to appear non-discriminating? This is not worth writing an article about.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 3:01pm
  16. Why are there not more women in Obamas cabinet?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 3:21pm
  17. didnt miss it on accident

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 3:49pm
  18. like my page plz! and message me if you wanna be an admin

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 6:39pm