August 10, 2011 | by Chris Johnson
BREAKING: White House names interim LGBT liaison

Raul Alvillar (photo courtesy of the White House)

The White House has designated a gay administration official as the interim point of contact for the LGBT community until a permanent liaison is named, the Washington Blade has learned exclusively.

Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, said Raul Alvillar, who currently serves as associate director for public engagement at the Office of the Vice President, will serve as a temporary replacement for Brian Bond, the current LGBT liaison. Bond, who’s leaving later this month for a position at the Democratic National Committee, is deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and handled LGBT outreach as part of his portfolio.

“Following Brian’s departure from the White House to his new position at the DNC, we will have a full-time liaison to the LGBT community in the Office of Public Engagement in October,” Inouye said. “In the interim, Raul Alvillar from the Office of the Vice President will serve as the point of contact for the LGBT community for OPE.”

Alvillar, 33, served for two-and-a-half years as the congressional relations officer for the Department of Housing & Urban Development. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Alvillar was western political director for Obama and assisted with LGBT outreach and LGBT super delegates at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

David Smith, the Human Rights Campaign’s vice president of programs, said in a statement HRC has heard “good things” about Alvillar.

“He has been with President Obama since the earliest days of the campaign,” Smith said. “Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett, Melody Barnes, director of the Domestic Policy Council, and Jon Carson, director of the Office of Public Engagement continue to shepherd our issues in the White House so we don’t anticipate these changes to cause any problems.”

Winnie Stachelberg, senior vice president for external affairs at the Center for American Progress, said she’s “thrilled” the White House has selected Alvillar as the interim LGBT liaison because of his work on LGBT politics and issues.

“He’s certainly got the ear of senior leadership in the White House, and it’s a good step,” Stachelberg said. “He’s got a sense of the policy from having worked in the legislative office. He’s worked in state politics, which I think is terribly important. He’s worked on the campaign. So, he’s someone who’s absolutely worked in a range of different positions, which I think will help him, and, ultimately, help the community to navigate these times and continue the progress that we’ve made on LGBT issues in the past two-and-a-half years.”

It’s unclear from the statement given by the White House whether Alvillar, or his permanent successor, will have the same role as Bond or if the position will be modified. Some LGBT advocates have been calling for the appointment of a more senior LGBT adviser who could more directly and consistently counsel Obama on LGBT issues.

Richard Socarides, president of Equality Matters, said the opportunity for the White House to create a more senior LGBT adviser still exists in the time period before a permanent replacement for Bond is named.

“What I think the community wants and deserves is a senior, full-time White House official at the special assistant or higher level whose sole responsibility is to represent the interests of the LGBT community at the White House and in the federal government,” Socarides said. “We deserve no less — and the time, the political moment calls for it. It should be clear to everyone.”

But Stachelberg maintained Obama already has a circle of senior advisers who counsel him on LGBT issues — including Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the president; Melody Barnes, director of the Domestic Policy Council, and John Berry, who’s gay and director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — and said the appointment of a senior LGBT adviser would be redundant.

“What the White House has with respect to LGBT issues is a senior leadership team to work on these issues,” Stachelberg said. “It’s important that it’s not just about a person, but that it’s about the senior leadership team that the president has around him that really deals with these issues all the time.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

13 Comments
  • He is HOT!!!

  • I want to know if Raul has done anything to lobby the president to award Frank Kameny the Medal of Freedom, or if he will do so in the near future. It’s time for the community to wage a campaign to pressure the White House to honor Frank with the Medal of Freedom. More info here:

    http://…. [URL removed]

  • Let’s forget shiny baubles like medals until after we get enda.
    Seriously – that’s our ask? WTF?

    • No, I will not forget about campaigning to secure the Medal of Freedom for this giant of the movement. Seriously, honoring Frank Kameny is one of the things we are asking for. Get used to it.

  • try all you want. your not getting my vote again.

  • You will do a awesome job!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Medals are irrelevant, jobs are what’s relevant. When we see the Senate hold hearings on repealing DOMA in the middle of a heated budget battle, but at the same time is still running away full speed from dealing with ENDA (read: jobs) you know that for Obama and the Democrats it’s not about what’s right for LGBT Americans, it’s about who has the deepest pockets and are writing the biggest checks to Democratic Party reelection coffers.

    How much justice can YOU afford to purchase from our elected leaders? Apparently, if you’re a lower or middle-class LGBT American working family, the answer is: You can’t even afford to get their attention.

    • Who made you the decided-in-chief of what is important to us? Not into honoring Frank Kameny? Allow those of us who are to do our work. We don’t have to put every important gay agenda item on hold until job protections are enacted by Congress. We can walk, talk and chew gum at the same time. You offer the lamest of excuses not to seek the Medal of Freedom for this 86-year-old leader who more than earned the honor years ago.

      • In a word, bullshit. Kameny’s been honored plenty over the years, and this isn’t something which should be high on our community’s agenda. What should be top on the agenda is that we still live in a country where in 29 states you can still be fired or thrown out of your home just for being gay, and in 35 just for being transgender. That’s where our elected officials should be focused, on helping Americans survive this recession, not on handing out awards to make us feel better about ourselves. These people were elected to lead, not host cocktail parties, and it’s time they started doing it.

  • Let’s allow those of us who admire Frank and want him to receive the Medal of Freedom to do our work, and you and your allies can do yours. Different gays can have different agendas, and we can all make lots of demands on the White House. Pretty crappy of you, Rebecca, to say the rest of us can’t advocate on Frank’s behalf till you get what you want or that he’s been honored enough. Frank can never receive too many honors.

  • Raul is a great and natural leader to fill this role. He has his challenges cut out for him but he is the right leader to be in a position to affect change. Congrats Raul.

  • As a trans latina, I applaud a fellow latin person with such stature! Yah!!

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