A Boston-based grassroots group, Equal Rep, is pushing a so-called “national action” to urge Barack Obama to creat a new post for “Secretary of GLBT Affairs.”
“We are the only minority group to have outright discriminatory laws against us. We can’t marry in 48 states, if we join the military we are required to lie or hide our sexual orientation lest we be discharged, and we are denied all federal recognition that we even exist just to name a few laws. If ever there was a critical need for a new Cabinet position, this is it.” said Equal Rep founder, Paul Sousa. “And on top of that, GLBT Americans are the only minority group to have never been appointed to the Presidential Cabinet in the history of the United States. We’re asking President Obama to give this community the legal and political attention it requires and the representation it deserves.”
Equal Rep says they were responsible for a national campaign to name an openly gay man to the Secretary of the Treasury position: “Equal Rep recently organized a nation-wide campaign to urge President-elect Obama to appoint Fred Hochberg as Commerce Secretary. That campaign was Equal Rep’s first victory. Although not appointed to Commerce Secretary, Hochberg was tapped to become Chair of the Export-Import Bank and the info of his mere vetting for such position was made public by the Obama transition team after five days of the campaign.”
I don’t think Sousa really understands what his proposal means. The U.S. Department of GLBT Affairs? Never. Will. Happen. Ever. If African-Americans, after suffering centuries of bondage, rape and murder, didn’t get a representative U.S. department, neither will we.
There’s no need for minority departments. The U.S. Justice Department, if operated correctly and with tools given to them by the president or Congress, is the office in charge of protecting the civil rights of Americans. And, let’s just face it, the LGBT community hasn’t yet gotten any federal civil rights legislation. That’s just a simple fact of life. If we can’t get a simple bill passed, what makes you think your proposal for a Gay Secretary is going to be taken seriously.
There were better ways to address our representation in Obama’s administration and the government, and I’m sure the Victory Fund and others are working diligently away to find it. One way to address equal representation is supporting LGBT people who run for elected office. The more out elected officials we have, the bigger a pool there is for a president or governor to appoint from. Hell, even taking the initiative to run yourself, if no one else is running, is a solution. You might not win, but you make it possible for someone else to win down the road.
But, the reality is that a Gay Secretary isn’t possible and isn’t the answer.
And, no, the Secretary for Veterans’ Affairs is not similar to any idea for a Gay Secretary. Sorry.