Will there ever be a gay Cabinet secretary?

There has never been an openly-gay (or transgender, for that matter) US Cabinet secretary. And it’s not clear that we’re getting one now. Why does it even matter? Read on.

Over the past 30 years, gays have gone from being considered a federal workforce security risk — I passed the Foreign Service Exam in 1989 and didn’t follow my life’s dream of becoming a diplomat because I feared I’d be kicked out for being gay — to serving as ambassadors and other senior administration positions. But we never made it to the president’s Cabinet until Donald Trump appointed Richard Grenell acting Director of National Intelligence — a Cabinet-level position, though 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-level appointees (who are not secretaries, but are considered Cabinet level, such as the White House Chief of Staff, the US Trade Representative, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Director of the CIA, etc.).

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There was a glowing article at NBC News about the record number of LGBT people that Biden is appointing. But is he really? If you’re non-binary, Biden is reportedly thinking of hiring someone non-binary in the administration. And that’s certainly an advance for non-binary people, but it’s not an advance for gay people, who got those kind of mid-level appointments thirty years ago.

For gay people, this feels like a flashback to the 1990s, when President Bill Clinton appointed the first-ever openly-gay senior members of a presidential administration, including an ambassador (James Hormel to Luxembourg), the head of the Export-Import Bank (Fred Hochberg), an assistant secretary (Robert Achtenberg at HUD), and a not-quite-out-not-quite-in Cabinet secretary (so they don’t count, as they’ve refused to be acknowledged publicly). Those were all amazing advances in their day. But flash forward to 2021, and there has still never been an openly-gay Secretary of an agency in any administration, Democrat or Republican, nor has a Democratic president ever appointed someone gay to a Cabinet-level post. (There has also never been an openly-gay Supreme Court nominee; and while other minority groups jockey for a position on that court, the gays aren’t even in consideration).

Which takes us the question: Why does it matter how many Blacks, Latinos or LGBT people Biden appoints to top positions? ….

You can read the rest of my article over at my new Substack newsletter, CyberDisobedience, thanks.


CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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