September 4, 2014 at 11:51 am EDT | by Chris Johnson
LGBT liaison to depart White House
Gautam Raghavan, Barack Obama Administration, White House, Frank Kameny, gay news, Washington Blade

White House Gautam Raghavan is set to depart the White House. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The White House official who acted as liaison to the LGBT community is set to depart from the administration on Friday, the Washington Blade has learned.

In an e-mail notice on Thursday obtained by the Blade, Gautam Raghavan, the White House public engagement director, announces that he’s leaving the administration to become vice president of policy for the Denver-based Gill Foundation. He’s set to start in his new role on Monday.

“As I make this transition, I find myself more hopeful than ever that big change (yes, the kind we can believe in!) is possible – because I’ve seen it happen,” Raghavan writes. “This kind of change can sometimes be slow, challenging, and frustrating. But when fierce advocates, unyielding activists, dedicated public servants, and strong allies work together, we can – and will – bend the arc of the moral universe towards justice.”

During his three-year tenure at the White House, Raghavan oversaw major changes within the administration, including the implementation of the U.S. Supreme Court decision against the Defense of Marriage Act and the signing of an executive order barring LGBT discrimination among federal contractors.

Prior to his job as White House LGBT liaison, Raghavan worked as the Deputy White House Liaison to the Pentagon. In that role, he facilitated communications between LGBT advocates, the White House and the Defense Department during the process for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and implementation of open service. In total, Raghavan served within the administration for five-and-a-half years.

In his email notice, Raghavan designates Monique Dorsainvil, director of planning and events as the temporary point of contact for LGBT issues at the White House until a new liaison is named.

Raghavan also was liaison to the Asian and Pacific Islander community. For those issues, he referred supporters in the aftermath of his departure to Jason Tengco, senior advisor for the White House Initiative on AAPIs.

Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, confirmed Raghavan would exit the White House, but had no information on the next LGBT liaison.

“We deeply appreciate Gautam’s work with the AAPI and LGBT communities on behalf of the White House Office of Public Engagement and wish him all the best in his next steps,” Inouye said. “We have no announcements at this time regarding his replacement.”

Ana Ma, chief operating officer and chief of staff for the Human Rights Campaign, had high praise for Raghavan upon his exit.

“Gautam has been a tireless and dedicated advocate for the rights of LGBT people throughout his tenure in the Obama Administration,” Ma said. “He will be greatly missed, and we wish him the best of luck.”

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

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