Politics

Will there ever be a gay cabinet secretary?

There has never been an openly gay (or transgender) US Cabinet Secretary. And it’s not clear we’re getting one now. Why is that even important? Continue reading.

In the past 30 years, gays were no longer classified as a security risk for federal forces. I passed the Foreign Service exam in 1989 and failed to fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming a diplomat because I feared I would be kicked out for being gay – to serve as an ambassador and other senior administrative positions. But we never made it into the President’s Cabinet until Donald Trump appointed Richard Grenell as Acting Director of National Intelligence – a cabinet-level position but not a Cabinet Secretary.

There are currently 23 members of Trump’s Cabinet, including the Vice President, 14 Cabinet Secretaries and the Attorney General, and 7 Cabinet officers (who are not secretaries but are considered a cabinet level, such as the White House Chief of Staff, the U.S. Commercial Agent, Director of Administration and budget, director of the CIA, etc.).

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NBC News had a glowing article about the record number of LGBT people Biden appoints. But is it really he? If you’re not binary, then Biden is reportedly considering hiring someone who isn’t binary in management. And that’s certainly progress for non-binary people, but it’s not progress for gay people who received such middle-level appointments thirty years ago.

For gay people, this is a look back at the 1990s, when President Bill Clinton appointed the first openly gay high-ranking members of a presidential administration, including an ambassador (James Hormel in Luxembourg) and the head of the Export-Import Bank (Fred Hochberg) deputy secretary (Roberthabenberg at the HUD) and a not-quite-out-not-quite-in-cabinet secretary (so they do not count because they refused to be publicly recognized). These were all amazing advances in her time. But look forward to 2021, and there has never been an openly gay agency secretary in any government, neither a Democrat nor a Republican, nor has a Democratic president ever appointed someone who is gay to cabinet-level office. (Neither has there ever been an openly gay candidate for the Supreme Court; and while other minorities compete for a position in that court, the gays are not even considered).

Which begs us, why does it matter how many black, Latino or LGBT people Biden names to top positions? ….

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John Aravosis
CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He holds a degree in Joint Law (JD) and a Masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown. and has served in the U.S. Senate, World Bank, Children’s Defense Fund, United Nations Development Program, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent television expert who has appeared on O’Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy, and Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. John’s article archive.

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