News & Politics

LGBTQ Community Frustrated at Biden's Cabinet Picks

AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

As Joe Biden carefully checks off the boxes on his diversity list for cabinet positions, he seems to have skipped over one important Democratic constituency.

He’s got all the major races covered — some of them twice. Black, Hispanic, Asians, a few more for good measure. And he’s got plenty of girls, although I think he could use a few more blondes.

But the LGBTQ community — I think that stands for lesbian, gay bi, trans, and queer community but they’ve probably added a few more when I wasn’t looking — are “frustrated” because Joe hasn’t checked their box yet.

The Washington Blade:

With President-elect Joe Biden quickly filling out his Cabinet, fewer opportunities remain for him to make history by nominating the first openly LGBTQ person to a Cabinet-level role for Senate confirmation, which many see as a missed opportunity as Pete Buttigieg has rejected the idea of serving as director of White House Office of Management & Budget and secretary of Veterans Affairs, according to Democratic insiders.

Some LGBTQ leaders are quietly expressing frustration that the movement hasn’t pushed more aggressively for representation in Biden’s Cabinet, especially when Black and Latino advocates have been vocal and have had their efforts pay off with prominent appointments. As of now, none of Biden’s major appointees — Cabinet or otherwise — have been out members of the LGBTQ community.

Now, Joe is an old man and his eyesight may not be what it once was. Maybe he skipped over the “LGBTQ Box” by accident. Maybe he forgot he was supposed to name an LGBTQ person to a cabinet-level role.

Whatever the reason, some LGBTQ advocates want the community to speak with a louder voice. And they want to push harder to find a spot for former South Bend mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.

In talks with the Biden transition team, one Democratic insider said the idea of Buttigieg becoming White House OMB director came up, but he rejected it and said he wanted a “real Cabinet” position, not a “staff-level” job. Buttigieg wasn’t formally offered the role because the idea was more a discussion with senior members of the transition team, the insider said.

Buttigieg doesn’t get it. OMB is hardly a “staff-level” job. In Washington, power is defined by access to the president. How much access does he think the commerce or interior secretary get? I can assure him that the OMB director will see the president more times in a month than the commerce secretary might in a year.

Be that as it may, Buttigieg is apparently being floated for ambassador to China. It’s not a cabinet-level job but would need Senate approval so Pete would get his Senate hearing with senators falling all over themselves to praise him for his groundbreaking, record-setting, and history-making appointment.

It should be noted that all presidents have to check the boxes — even Republicans. Where a GOP president might name one black person to the cabinet, Democrats are compelled to name two or three, with one of them required to be a woman.

It does no good to gently point out the truth of the matter: America may be browning up but it is still 67 percent white. So when Biden is finished, will he have 67 percent white people serving in his administration? Obviously, it doesn’t work that way. Biden’s choices will reflect the constituencies that got him elected. I don’t think I’ll see too many people who look like me in his cabinet.

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