With President-elect Joe Biden rapidly filling out his Cabinet, fewer alternatives stay for him to make historical past by nominating the primary brazenly LGBTQ particular person to a Cabinet-level position for Senate affirmation, which many see as a missed alternative as Pete Buttigieg has rejected the thought of serving as director of White House Office of Management & Budget and secretary of Veterans Affairs, in response to Democratic insiders.
Some LGBTQ leaders are quietly expressing frustration that the motion hasn’t pushed extra aggressively for illustration in Biden’s Cabinet, particularly when Black and Latino advocates have been vocal and have had their efforts repay with outstanding appointments. As of now, none of Biden’s main appointees — Cabinet or in any other case — have been out members of the LGBTQ neighborhood.
Meanwhile, Buttigieg — broadly assumed to be a high contender for a Cabinet submit within the Biden administration — has reportedly turned down two outstanding roles.
In talks with the Biden transition workforce, one Democratic insider mentioned the thought of Buttigieg changing into White House OMB director got here up, however he rejected it and mentioned he needed a “real Cabinet” place, not a “staff-level” job. Buttigieg wasn’t formally supplied the position as a result of the thought was extra a dialogue with senior members of the transition workforce, the insider mentioned.
Additionally, Buttigieg in separate talks on Monday signaled to Annise Parker, CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Institute, that he gained’t pursue the place of secretary of Veterans Affairs, in response to two senior Democratic sources, regardless of media studies he was in consideration for the job.
Buttigieg didn’t reply to a request for remark, nor did his political motion committee, Win the Era.
Biden has by no means explicitly made a promise to nominate an brazenly LGBTQ Cabinet member, notably declining to make that dedication when requested throughout the presidential marketing campaign in an interview with the Philadelphia Gay News. In an interview final week with CNN, Biden typically acknowledged the significance of together with marginalized communities in his administration, together with LGBTQ folks.
“Every advocacy group out there is pushing for more and more and more of what they want. That’s their job,” Biden mentioned. “My job is to keep my commitment, to make the decisions. And when it’s all over, people will take a look and say, I promise you, you’ll see the most diverse Cabinet, representative of all folks, Asian-Americans, African-Americans, Latinos, LGBTQ, across the board.”
But if Biden declines to appoint an brazenly LGBTQ particular person to his Cabinet for Senate affirmation, he’ll miss a possibility to make historical past and grant outstanding visibility to a neighborhood that has a historical past of gifted leaders being sidelined due to their sexual orientation or gender id.
(It would additionally give Richard Grenell — who as appearing director of nationwide intelligence within the Trump administration grew to become the primary brazenly homosexual Cabinet member, although he by no means gained Senate affirmation — a purpose to rejoice as Trump achieved a primary for the LGBTQ neighborhood that Biden didn’t even try.)
Jamal Brown, a spokesperson for the Biden transition workforce, identified Biden has achieved many firsts for different communities in response to the simmering discontent over no LGBTQ appointees.
“President-elect Biden is working to build an administration that looks like America, starting with the first woman of South Asian descent and first Black woman to be Vice President-elect, as well as a slate of historic nominees and appointees, to date,” Brown mentioned. “Over the coming weeks, our team will continue to build upon President-elect Biden’s legacy of advancing LGBTQ+ equality by shaping a government that reflects the breadth and diversity of our nation.”
Many observers thought Buttigieg, who made historical past as a homosexual presidential candidate within the Democratic major, could be a shoo-in for a Cabinet position. After all, Buttigieg gave Biden a lift within the major by dropping out earlier than the South Carolina contest and endorsing his fellow reasonable, then campaigned onerous for Biden within the weeks main as much as the overall election.
But discovering the appropriate position for Buttigieg — who’s gifted, however lacks authorities expertise aside from serving as mayor of the small metropolis of South Bend, Ind. — isn’t straightforward.
The multilingual Buttigieg emerged as a potential choose for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, as many media retailers reported. It’s a not a Cabinet place, however is a outstanding position and would have burnished Buttigieg’s international coverage credentials for a subsequent run for public workplace.
But with Biden promising to conduct international coverage with seasoned professionals, in distinction to the Trump administration’s reliance on dilettantes like Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the job ended up going to Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who as a Foreign Service officer had a number of postings within the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia and served as assistant secretary of state for African Affairs within the Obama administration.
As famous, each the thought of director of OMB and secretary of VA have come up in talks with Buttigieg, however he rejected them, in response to knowledgable sources. The nod for OMB ended up going to Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, though she could face a difficult Senate confirmation fight.
It needs to be famous the VA has an extended historical past and fame for institutional issues in delivering care to veterans. Anyone operating the VA would face criticism for its inefficiencies and the job is broadly thought of extra applicable for an elder statesman as against a younger politician desirous to make one other run for workplace.
Parker, in a press release to the Washington Blade, pointed to Biden’s feedback throughout his CNN interview as proof LGBTQ individuals are nonetheless in play for main roles.
“There is no reason to believe he will backtrack,” Parker mentioned. “We understand some are getting anxious about presidential appointments, but there is no question the transition team knows our community expects an out LGBTQ Cabinet appointee. We have great relationships with the transition team and are in constant communication. There are still many appointments to be made and a strength of our applicants is that many represent multiple communities.”
Parker additionally touted the Presidential Appointments Project, which seeks to position certified LGBTQ folks in federal authorities, in response to an inquiry on efforts undertaken by the LGBTQ Victory Institute to get an out LGBTQ particular person within the Cabinet.
“Our Presidential Appointments Initiative is unique in that our efforts do not end in the next few weeks after the most high-profile appointments are made,” Parker mentioned. “We are putting in place an infrastructure that will allow us to secure high-level appointments now, but also to work with the administration for the next four years in ensuring LGBTQ people are appointed in every agency and at every level.”
Parker had no touch upon the Blade’s inquiry in regards to the change she reportedly had on Monday with Buttigieg in regards to the VA position, nor the OMB place.
Another member of the LGBTQ neighborhood broadly alleged to be a potential addition to the Biden administration is Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Rachel Levine, the highest-level brazenly transgender public official within the United States. The LGBTQ Victory Institute had speculated she might be a alternative for U.S. surgeon normal.
But when the Biden workforce introduced its decisions for senior well being officers on Sunday, the position of surgeon normal went to Vivek Murthy, who served as surgeon normal throughout the Obama administration.
No brazenly transgender particular person has ever been confirmed by the U.S. Senate, which might have made Levine’s affirmation a tall order in a chamber with a 50-50 break up or Republican management relying on the end result of the upcoming Georgia run-off in January.
Levine has additionally been a lightning rod in conservative circles over well being restrictions in Pennsylvania amid the coronavirus pandemic, however that’s doubtless simply an expression of animosity towards Levine for being transgender, for which she has additionally confronted bigoted assaults.
Nate Wardle, a Levine spokesperson, instructed the Blade earlier than the announcement on surgeon normal his boss was targeted on her present job and didn’t reply to an extra request for remark this week.
“Dr. Levine is dedicated to her work within the administration of Gov. Tom Wolf, and is laser-focused on the ongoing challenge of protecting Pennsylvanians from COVID-19,” Wardle mentioned.
Meanwhile, different underrepresented teams have been extra vocal about pushing for a Cabinet member from their communities — and extra profitable in getting outcomes. After the Congressional Hispanic Caucus protested the absence of Latinos amongst Biden’s picks, the president-elect on Sunday named California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as secretary of Health and Human Services.
In shock information late Monday, media retailers reported Biden’s alternative of protection secretary could be retired Gen. Lloyd Austin, the previous commander of U.S. Central Command, who could be the primary Black particular person to guide the Pentagon.
The information shattered broadly held expectations the job would go to Michele Flournoy, who was thought of the favourite for the place and would have been the primary girl protection secretary. The NAACP had been strongly pushing Biden to incorporate a Black particular person, together with the opportunity of former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick as U.S. legal professional normal, after Biden’s preliminary Cabinet decisions have been all white.
Following up on that information, the Associated Press reported late Tuesday Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, was Biden’s choose for secretary of housing and concrete improvement.
Lucas Acosta, a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, mentioned he expects Biden to combine LGBTQ folks totally in his administration when requested in regards to the LGBTQ group’s efforts in comparison with the efforts of Black and Latino advocates.
“Joe Biden is committed to putting forward a Cabinet that reflects the diversity of our nation, both with gender, sexual orientation, race and background, and we are confident that he will make good on that commitment,” Acosta mentioned. “He has already made the commitment in aspects of race, and we look forward to working with him and his Cabinet to affect the policy changes that LGBTQ people need.”
Things could be altering by way of ramping up requires an brazenly LGBTQ Cabinet member. On Tuesday, the congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus made public a letter to the Biden transition workforce making the case for outstanding LGBTQ appointees in his administration.
“While your administration is on track to be the most diverse in American history, we ask that you continue your commitment to diversity by ensuring LGBTQ+ professionals are included in your Cabinet and throughout your administration,” the letter says. “The fact is that the LGBTQ+ community remains underrepresented at the highest levels of our government.”
One identify that has emerged for a but unassigned place is Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, the primary out lesbian elected as legal professional normal. Healey’s identify has come up as risk for Biden’s U.S. legal professional normal, though she could be thought of an extended shot amid other heavy hitters like Sally Yates, Merrick Garland and Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala).
Biden has signaled he’d identify his alternative for legal professional normal on Friday. Giving the nod to Healey could be a shock, however not out of step with different shock decisions for an administration that has made large guarantees for change. A spokesperson for Healy’s political motion committee didn’t reply to a request for remark.
CLARIFICATION: This article has been up to date to make clear the quotes on the OMB place are attributed to Buttigieg.