The U.S. Senate last Thursday confirmed three openly LGBT individuals to high-ranking roles in the Obama administration — including a gay man to a top position in the Defense Department — as part of 27 nominees that moved forward by unanimous consent.
Senators confirmed Douglas Wilson, who’s gay, to the position of assistant secretary of defense for public affairs.
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which prevents openly gay people from serving the U.S. military, doesn’t apply to Wilson because he was appointed to a civilian position in the Defense Department.
The Senate also confirmed Cynthia Atwood, a lesbian appeals judge, to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The body is an independent federal agency that rules over contests of citations or penalties of OSHA inspections in the American workplace..
Additionally, senators confirmed David Mills, who’s gay, as assistant secretary of commerce for export enforcement. Mills, an attorney, had served at the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
The three gay officials were nominated to their positions after being recommended by the Presidential Appointments Project, a Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund-led initiative that helps openly LGBT individuals get appointments in the Obama administration.
The Senate confirmed the officials after President Obama threatened to use his power to make recess appointments for his nominees. Holds by Republican senators had prevented the confirmation of more than 63 nominees.
According to the Victory Fund, the three confirmations bring the total number of openly LGBT appointees in the Obama administration to just over 100, including 22 Senate-confirmed officials.