Could Obama’s New Secretary of Commerce Be Gay?

Scandal-clouded New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is no longer going to be Barack Obama‘s Secretary of Commerce, giving Obama a chance to call ‘mulligans’ on the whole ‘There are no high profile gays and lesbians in my cabinet’ thing. Grassroots group Equal Rep is pushing Fred Hochberg, dean of Milano the New School for Management and Urban Policy as a candidate. In his favor: he was one of Hillary’s big fundraisers and Hochberg is a member of Obama’s transition team. Working against him: The fact that an openly-gay person has never been appointed to a Cabinet-level position. Let’s all get our hopes up so they can be dashed again!

Pink News UK reports on why Hochberg should get the position:

“Equal Rep, “a grassroots political organisation committed to full representation of GLBT-identified people in all facets of government,” has urged the President-elect to nominate Fred Kochberg.

“In more than 200 years, the United States Cabinet has never included an openly gay member,” the group said in a statement.

“Growing national focus on GLBT civil rights has therefore made the Secretary of Commerce appointment a national issue in the struggle for equal representation.

“Fred Hochberg is the most qualified candidate for the job.

“Mr Hochberg has more than 25 years of experience in business, government, civil rights activities, and philanthropy.

“From 1998 through 2000, he served as deputy then acting administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA), an agency elevated to Cabinet rank by President Bill Clinton.

“At the SBA, he directed the delivery of a comprehensive set of financial and business development programmes for entrepreneurs, with particular outreach to women and minorities.

“He also served on President Clinton’s Management Council.”

Equal Rep is urging Americans to contact the Barack Obama transition team and express support for Mr Hockberg.”

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  • Drake Roberts

    Why so cynical Japhy, and everyone else for that matter? Obama is still a politican and about to be the president of a very diverse, very scattered country. How can he be an advocate for one group of people, and shun another. Although you and many readers may not agree with the Christian right and Middle American mind set, they are still entitled to their beliefs and thus are still a group of people that Obama needs to acknowledge. Just like we, the gay community, are entitled to our lives and opinions. Maybe he will appoint Hochberg as Secretary of Commerce, and than what, you’ll spin another 180 degrees to praise him? Maybe he won’t appoint Hochberg. Either way I stand behind Obama and will wait until he’s actually President before doubting and tuning my back on him.

  • ask ena

    OK…Rick Warren is one thing.

    This story?? Come on. Whether or not this guy gets selected is not a gay rights issue. I’m sure there are dozens of qualified candidates for the job, and this guy doesn’t deserve the position BECAUSE he is gay.

  • Chloe

    If Fred Hochberg is the most qualified candidate for the job then I say fine. I couldn’t care less if he’s gay.

    I still say we draft Krugman. Either way the repubs squirm.

  • hardmannyc

    Point is, Hochberg is a hell of a lot more qualified than a political hack like Richardson. He’s put in his dues and he knows the lay of the land. he’s also a nice guy.

  • blake

    Look, we’re facing what could be the next Great Depression. I don’t care about the sexual orientation of the Commerce Secretary as long as she or he can get the job done.

    Obama will be under pressure to appoint someone who is not only qualified but is also a woman, Latino, African-American, Native-American, Asian, and queer. All of those constituencies want representation in the Presidential Cabinet. Right?

    Side thought. Of the four major Democratic candidates who ran, Obama, Clinton, Richardson and Edwards, the best person won.

    1) Clinton ran an inept, racist campaign. Had Clinton not accepted the Sec of State position she would have found herself in a difficult position in a 2010 relection campaign.

    2) Edwards’ affair would have killed any chance of winning against McCain.

    3) Richardson had many skeletons in his closet. One was his handling of the Wen Ho Lee scandal, which caused deep animosity against Richards amongst many Asian-Americans. Had Richardson won the nomination and election, he would be a president-elect facing a grand jury investigation.

    All four candidates also held the same position: yes to civil unions; no on marriage.

    Whoops. Forgot about Biden. No scandal. Holds the same position on gay marriage/civil unions.

    So, Obama and Biden turned out to be the best candidates.

  • Michael Stewart

    The problem is this: Hochberg was a strong Hillary Clinton supporter up until the final primary state.

  • Michael W.

    @blake: “1) Clinton ran an inept, racist campaign. Had Clinton not accepted the Sec of State position she would have found herself in a difficult position in a 2010 relection campaign.”

    Hillary sure did run an inept campaign, but racist? I don’t think so.

    And she would’ve easily won re-election in 2010.

    You’re clearly one of the more delusional Obama supporters that still suffer from Clinton Derangement Syndrome.

  • John from England(used to be just John but there are other John's)

    @Michael W.:

    Er she did.

    Were you asleep under a deep rock when she kept on referring to Obama as ‘The black man/candidate’???

    She ironically effed it up, as her and Bill are prob less racist then Obama.

    The Clintons did a helluva lot for Black America..but they freaked out over the ‘young inexperienced upstart’.

  • seitan-on-a-stick

    Just don’t let Caroline Kennedy ruin the administration for New Yorkers.

  • Dave

    The reason this matters is that one Dean Hochberg is a very qualified candidate; its fairly common for people who have performed well in lower cabinet positions, as he did, to later on be placed in higher level cabinet positions. Now its true that the best candidate should be nominated but what constitutes the best candidate – its not as though though any official seeking the position of Secretary of Commerce would have similar backgrounds – for example would Romney’s experience as a business owner be more valuable then someone who served as a regulator of businesses or perhaps as a member of one of Federal Reserve Banks? Quite frankly its a what if situation – no one can honestly say person ‘A’ is the best one for the job until after the fact, we might site reasons for why we think they will do a good job but that doesn’t make them better reasons then why Jimmy thinks some other guy would do a good job. That being said as the only sizable minority group not to have ever been represented in the cabinet does that matter? I think it does and I think any GLBT candidate will always face doubts about their qualifications for higher office until it does (granted a member of the community elected to the cabinet wouldn’t have quite as much of a ripple effect as someone who ran for and won a governor’s seat but it’s a step in the right direction). Let Congress wrangle out who’s qualified or not when they go through the nominations ( and congress will certainly be making sure all candidates are qualified though what constitutes qualified to congress can be rather dicey), there’s no reason not to support Hochberg going out and saying that he considers himself up to the job and should receive a fair hearing which he almost certainly will not get without a little push.

    *yes I’m still feeling grouchy*

  • Glenn I

    @Dave: Weird that you have to make a point about the importance of a high profile out gay member of government on a gay news site … I think this is one of the things that weakens the gay community as a political force, our internalized heterosexism. Anyone who has ever hired someone knows there are many significant factors in making the decision who might be “best” for the job. There’s really no such thing as “the best person for the job” or “the most qualified.” When you’re hiring you look at what’s available and make a judgment call. If Obama’s goal isn’t just about forcing a particular policy but uniting a nation riven by conflicting politics he will take seriously the inclusion of voices with different experience, including gay experience, however that matters/doesn’t matter in terms of the title on the office door.

  • sparkle obama

    @Michael W.:
    >>Hillary sure did run an inept campaign, but racist? I don’t think so.<<

    you are in denial

Comments are closed.