Will there be a gay member of Joe Biden’s presidential cabinet?
That’s the question floating around Washington, D.C.
One of the leading candidates is Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who challenged Biden for the Democratic party nomination.
Alfredo Olvera has met Buttigieg on three occasions and hosted an event for his husband Chasten. Olvera, president of the Dolphin Democrats, said Buttigieg would be a great member of Biden’s cabinet.
“I hope it’s a reality,” said Olvera. “It would be a significant moment for the LGBTQ community to have an openly gay member in the Biden cabinet. He’s fantastic and I’m super excited. Anything the mayor does he does it well. He’s just brilliant, especially when talking to conservative media. He does a phenomenal job.”
Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution defines the cabinet’s role as advising the president on any subject he may require relating to the duties of each member’s respective office. The cabinet includes Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and chief executives from 15 departments. This week Biden tapped his former Ebola advisor Ron Klain as chief-of-staff.
In a statement, the LGBTQ Victory Institute called on Biden to appoint at least one out LGBT person to a Senate-confirmed cabinet position.
“Members of Joe Biden’s Cabinet will have tremendous influence over the policies and direction of the next administration, so it is essential an LGBTQ voice is at the table,” said Mayor Annise Parker, President and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute. “Allies are invaluable, but the impact of policies on LGBTQ lives is not always fully understood by someone outside our community. An LGBTQ Cabinet appointment will ensure our community is part of decision-making at the highest levels and will also be a lasting piece of Joe Biden’s legacy on LGBTQ equality. At no time in American history has an LGBTQ person been confirmed by the Senate for a Cabinet-level position. It would be a powerful moment and a testament to our community’s place in the nation.”
Cabinet-level positions are Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, Veteran’s Affairs and the Attorney General.
Buttigieg, who served as a Naval intelligence officer in Afghanistan, has VA qualifications. In recognizing Veteran’s Day, Biden’s statement was inclusive of LGBT Americans.
Biden said America has an obligation to prepare and equip troops sent into harm’s way.
“For our veterans, that means providing a future of security, opportunity, and dignity; world-class health care provided by the VA, with women and LGBTQ+ veterans receiving culturally competent care; and addressing the mental health crises and the epidemic of suicides that are claiming too many of our veterans and service members.”
Veteran’s Affairs is historically a difficult post with specific missions for health care, benefits, national cemeteries and preparedness. In his book, “Shortest Way Home,” Buttigieg wrote about returning from deployment and receiving thanks not afforded to veterans of other conflicts. The young gay mayor wrote his return from overseas moved him to become one person.
“I had realized, it was time to get serious about sorting out my personal life,” Buttigieg wrote.
Buttigieg went on to marry Chasten and win the Iowa caucuses before giving way to Biden and serving as a surrogate to the former vice president.
Politico reporter Alex Thompson recently wrote Buttigieg’s allies have been lobbying Biden for a foreign policy post along the lines of United Nations Ambassador.
“Buttigieg has some chips to cash in with Biden after his crucial endorsement ahead of the Super Tuesday primary elections in March and his busy campaign schedule for the Democratic nominee,” Thompson noted.
In addition to a cabinet-level position, the LGBTQ Victory Institute is asking Biden to nominate an LGBT Supreme Court Justice, and to make LGBT women, people of color and transgender ambassador appointments.
“Joe Biden is committed to building an administration that reflects the diversity of America and we stand ready to help him,” said Dr. Claire Lucas, Chair of the LGBTQ Victory Institute Board of Directors, in a press release. “The challenges facing the new administration are enormous — from tackling the pandemic to reviving the economy to ensuring our relationships around the globe are restored. Fortunately, there are LGBTQ people qualified and ready to lead in confronting all those challenges both at home and abroad. Biden can build the most LGBTQ-inclusive administration in history while assembling a team that can move America forward.”