Queer Eyes For That President Guy

We’ve been watching over the last few months to see if Barack Obama‘s team-of-rivals/superfriends/all-star league of Cabinet positions would include any openly gay members, and while the final composition of the Cabinet includes both Tom Daschle (Sec. Health & Human Services) and Arne Duncan (Sec. Education), both strong gay rights advocates, the All-American Hope Team starting line-up remains 100 percent homo free.

That’s not to say there are no prominent openly gay members of the Obama administration. The new President’s gays may not be in the immediate line of succession, but while it’s still early in the process, the number of LGBT folks serving in senior positions is encouraging. A few of them are in important policy positions that have the potential to directly effect 44’s commitment to fulfill his various campaign promises to the LGBT community, as well.

So, who’s going to be gaying up the White House? Let’s meet em’.

John Berry
Director of the Office of Personnel Management

Previous Experience: Assistant Interior Secretary under Bill Clinton and current director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park.

The guy with the hiring and firing (well, mostly hiring) authority in Obama’s White House will be John Berry, an openly gay man, which of course, is great news for gays and lesbians looking to serve in the federal workforce. Even though LGBT workplace discrimination is illegal at the federal level, having Berry run the agency tasked with handling the benefits, salaries and recruiting efforts of the federal government is great news for people concerned about lingering discrimination.

Demeaning Gay Stereotype Position Most Resembles: The catty queen who sits by the bar, silently judging everyone who walks in the door. That’s right, we see you doing it.

Anthony Bernal
Director of Scheduling, Dr. Jill Biden’s office

Previous Experience: Scheduling and advance man for President Bill Clinton and Vice-President Al Gore, 2004 DNC Convention Committee Director of Financial Administration, Chief of staff at the ALS Therapy Development Foundation.

For what it’s worth, Anthony Bernal’s LinkedIn profile picture is of a turtle, and we can only presume he identifies with the reptile’s steady pace and hard shell, not its reputation for sloth. Which is a good bet for a man once responsible for filling out both President Clinton and Vice-President Gore’s date book.

Bernal’s had an eclectic career. Originally from Tucson, he got his bachelor’s in History and Philosophy at the University of Texas, El Paso, before entering public service. He’s hop-scotched in and out of government ever since, having worked for both a biotech firm and Coca-Cola.

Demeaning Gay Stereotype Position Most Resembles: Considering that Bernal held this same position with Dr. Biden during the campaign, you have to assume they’ve got a good rapport, so the demeaning gay stereotype here is not Bernal’s, but Dr. Jill’s, who seems to be a bit of a fag hag.

Brian Bond
Deputy Director of Public Liaison

Previous Experience: Executive director of The Victory Fund, Constituent Liaison for Obama for America, Director of the DNC Gay and Lesbian Leadership Council, DNC Director of LGBT Outreach.

Why He Matters: Of all the announcements made so far, Bond’s is the one gays and lesbians should be happiest about. While his portfolio consists of helping the President tailor his message to specific constituent groups of all stripes, his resume implies that his main purpose is to serve as Obama’s connection the LGBT community. By all accounts, Bond is cucumber cool and excels at organization building and reaching out to people with different perspectives, which makes it no surprise that Obama, a community organizer himself, would want to keep him around. He basically rebuilt The Victory Fund, which identifies and develops LGBT politicians across the country, from scratch; it’s a position that’s given him deep roots withing the LGBT community.

Demeaning Gay Stereotype Position Most Resembles: Brian Bond is basically Barack Obama’s gay best friend. He’ll rely on Bond to translate the loud cacophony of our community into something intelligible–and actionable.

Fred Hochberg
Chair Export-Import Bank

Previous Experience: Dean of Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy.

While still an unofficial pick, the leakiness of Obama’s appointment announcements make Hochberg’s position a foregone conclusion at this point. It makes him the most senior LGBT member of the Obama administration. The Ex-Im Bank Chair will serve a vital role in helping stave off the worst parts of the Global Financial Cris by encouraging foreign investors by American goods, which has an obvious impact on jobs here in the U.S. The Ex-Im bank has been criticized for being a special interest’s piggy bank for companies like Enron and Boeing, despite a Congressional mandate to focus on small-business, so Hochberg will have some cleaning up to do.

Demeaning Gay Stereotype Position Most Resembles: You could say Hochberg is Obama’s own personal shopper. Though rather than picking up Prada loafers, Hochberg will be loaning money to foreign investors to buy American-made planes, trucks and goods. One of the neat things about the Ex-Im bank is that no loan is considered to be too small for it to consider, so you know, if American designers like Michael Kors need a boost, they might want to consider ringing Hochberg.

Bradley J. Kiley
Director of the Office of Management and Administration

Previous Experience: Director of Operations for the Obama-Biden Transition, Bill Clinton’s deputy assistant for management and administration.

Unless you get excited by PowerPoint presentations, there’s nothing terribly exciting about Bradley J. Kiley’s position as head of the OMA, other than the fact that Kiley’s the office manager of the most important office in the world. Sure, the OMA is where Obama will go when he runs out of stationary, but it’s also in charge of human resources management, library and research assistance, facilities management, procurement, printing and graphics support, security, and mail and messenger operations. Hey, somebody has to do it.

Demeaning Gay Stereotype Position Most Resembles: Originally, we speculated this was a Queer Eye for the Straight Guy position, but on second thought the only gay stereotype we can think of that fits is maybe the gay guy at Staples who takes acting classes on the side while hoping to escape from retail.

Nancy Sutley
White House Council on Environmental Quality

Previous Experience: Los Angeles Deputy Mayor for energy and environment, California State Water Resources Control Board, adviser to former Gov. Grey Davis on water-rights issues.

It’s not just gays and lesbians who are happy about Nancy Sutley’s appointment, but progressives and environmental advocates as well. Sutley is part of an environmental team that’s headed by Colorado’s Ken Salazar, and while your Los Angeles-based editor is biased, the decision to put Westerner’s in charge of the Department of Interior is a smart one. The region not only faces the biggest problems, it’s also been at the forefront of developing smart, economically feasible solutions.

If you think the fight over oil is bad, just wait for the coming water wars as the twin behemoths of population growth and global climate radically reshape the availability and need for fresh water. California was once the worst offender of nonsensical water storage and diversion projects, but Sutley, who served on California State Water Resources Control Board and advised Gov. Grey Davis will bring her intimate knowledge of how to develop sustainable water resources to the White House.

Demeaning Gay Stereotype Position Most Resembles: Lumberjack lesbian Duh.

UPDATED: The Washington Blade reported on three more rumored appointments to be filled by LGBT people after this story went to press.

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  • Christian

    John Berry’s cute. :)

  • Dawster

    you missed Roberta Achtenberg, Elaine Kaplan, Michael Guest, Thomas Soto, and Rick Stramberger who are all part of the Obama transition team.

  • George

    And the only gay from the Bush administration who’s staying on…forget his name, the golbal AIDS outreach director or something.

  • Japhy Grant

    @marco: Thanks Marco!

    @Dawster: We’re covering folks with administration appointments in the new White House, not transition team members or campaign staff members– though a few of these appointments are of people who worked on both.

  • blake


    Shame on you for pretending that Obama actually isn’t a raging homophobe. Just because Obama hires competent, well-regarded queers does not mean he isn’t plotting evil to imperil us all!

    In fact, by showing how upstanding, smart, and dedicated gay Americans can be, Obama is doing nothing more than creating visible role models for queers young and old. That is the very definition of terrible!

    Just think, some gay kid might actually believe that he/she can grow up and be a big muckety-muck (sp?) working openly in the White House, able to speak to the president of the United States as a trusted adviser. That is truly diabolical! Shame, shame, shame on Obama for being inclusive.

  • Leland Frances

    You left out that Hochberg was also a Clinton appointment with the Small Business Administration, a third nail in the coffin of the latest Obama hagiographic nonsense I’ve read: that Obama’s gay appointments are genunie while Clinton’s were pandering “identity appointments.” Then there’s those little disconnects like selecting Dave Noble, a great guy but what does he know about NASA, and John Berry to lead the Office of Personnel Management after formerly heading THE NATIONAL ZOO. Sure, people can act like animals but come! The obviousness of this crumb throwing is measured by how far they are, except in Hochberg’s case, from anything relative in the nominees’ resumes.

    Three cheers for all of them even as we kiss goodbye to any forceful criticism of Obama’s future failure to keep his promises to us [if anyone can imagine that] they might have offered.

    In short, to date Obama has selected fewer gays for positions in his administration than Clinton ultimately had and NONE to date for positions of any greater importance than gays had during the Clinton administration.

    NB: Achtenberg wasn’t just on Clinton’s transistion team, he appointed her Assistant Secretary to HUD.

  • petted

    Nom nom nom strawberries ;)

  • Nick

    Great! In the hopeful new future Gays are the entertainment, the interior designers and (for the most part) the administrators. I am turning blue with anticipation over who will be selected as the official White House hair dresser! Maybe they’ll do something really exciting and find, like, a person of color or something who is also GAY!

    I’m so excited by the daring new ways the Obama administration is treating the lgbt community. Now that’s really change we can believe in!

    (this is sarcasm just in case anyone might be confused).

  • Deiv Compton

    You missed Moises Vela Jr., Director of Administration for the Office of the Vice President.

  • seitan-on-a-stick

    Are appointments tied to Big Gay Bundlers from that big primary War Chest? Love the Blake “Totally Spin Zone” of Barack as the Messiah! I’m liking the few milquetoast appointments of Gays to, say, Office of Kicking the homeless off the White House Lawn, Office of get me a Venti Latte and make it Quick, Bitch! etc etc

    Hell forbid if we were left in charge of the Pentagon or either House of Congress! QUESTION: Are there any OUT people of color serving in his administration? I don’t know, I just wondered if Japhy does?

  • Mister C

    OKAY, Japhy that’s one for the Latino’s. I think you knew Seitan meant…lets be blunt…BLACKS?

  • Greg

    It’s OK, being stuck in the Cabinet is probably more uncomfortable than being stuck in the closet.

  • mark

    Brian bond’s job will be easy on one hand and extremely difficult on the other.
    The easy part is he may be one of only a handful of queers who aren’t so pissed off already at Obama they’d speak with him.
    The hard part is to change that situation, before it locks in stone.

  • Roger

    By “people of color” I think seitan-on-a-stick meant black. Latinos are pretty much considered white.

    It would have been nice to see openly gay asians too. We can only hope I guess.

    Great job so far, though.

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