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Obama ‘looking carefully’ at Hochberg for commerce secretary

Export-Import chief would be first openly gay Cabinet member



Fred Hochberg, Export-Import Bank, Human Rights Campaign, Washington Blade, gay news
Fred Hochberg, Export-Import Bank, Human Rights Campaign, Washington Blade, gay news

Chair of the Export-Import Bank of the United States Fred Hochberg is being considered as Commerce Secretary (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

President Obama is actively considering the nomination of U.S. Export-Import Bank Chair Fred Hochberg as commerce secretary and potentially the first openly gay Cabinet member in history, according to an administration official.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Washington Blade that Hochberg is under consideration for various positions within the administration, although commerce secretary is the role for which he’s seen as most fit.

“What I’ve been told is Fred is very well regarded, he’s done a great job at the bank, and he’s one of the folks that they are looking at carefully for Commerce,” the official said.

But the official said Hochberg hasn’t been involved as of Monday in direct talks with the White House about the position, nor could the official offer any timeline for when the administration would make an announcement.

Fred Sainz, vice president of the Human Rights Campaign, said Hochberg is well-qualified for a position as a Cabinet member or a senior administration official.

“There are a number of highly qualified candidates for cabinet and senior administration positions and Fred is definitely among them,” Sainz said. “We have every confidence that the president will select individuals that reflect the great diversity of our country and that includes LGBT individuals with sterling credentials.”

In a follow-up email, Sainz clarified that his words are not a confirmation that he’s aware Hochberg is under consideration for any particular new role within the administration.

White House spokesperson Shin Inouye said in response to a request for comment that he has no personnel announcements to make.

The commerce secretary post has been vacant since June when former Commerce Secretary John Bryson resigned for medical tests after suffering a seizure while driving his car.

Advocates have called on Obama to appoint the first openly gay Cabinet member as he transitions into his second term. In addition to Hochberg, there has been speculation that John Berry, director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, might be considered for the role of secretary of the interior. But the White House hasn’t publicly stated whether Obama would in fact nominate these individuals.

During the Clinton administration, Hochberg served as deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration and later became its acting administrator. His experience in business includes managing the mail order business Lillian Vernon Corp. and being a director of Fusion Telecommunications International.

Gay White House official departs for role at AIDS foundation

In other LGBT personnel news at the White House, Brad Kiley, assistant to the president for management and administration, is leaving to pursue a role as chief operating officer with the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation starting Jan. 28.

In a statement, Obama praised Kiley for his role at the White House, which involved directing day-to-day management and operations within the White House complex. Kiley, who’s gay, was responsible for finance, budgeting, information technology, facilities management, human resources operations, and strategic planning for the Executive Office of the President.

“Since the early days of the Transition Project, Brad Kiley has been an integral part of our team,” Obama said. “For the past four years, he managed the nuts-and-bolts of the Executive Office of the President seamlessly. His dedication and stewardship helped us streamline our operations, and provide coordination and strategic planning throughout the Executive Office of the President. He had a knack for bringing out the best in the men and women who work here and his professionalism will be missed.”

Chip Lyons, CEO of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, said his organization is “absolutely delighted” to have Kiley join the organization.

“He has tremendous experience in operations and the development of business models that are fit for the rapidly changing environment in which we work to eliminate pediatric AIDS,” Lyons said. “He complements this knowledge with a longstanding commitment to achieving the end of AIDS.”


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  1. John M Eschenbaum

    December 6, 2012 at 4:13 am

    Again, it is demonstrated that Obama was and is the right choice for our nation.

  2. Charger Stone

    December 6, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Glad they changed the title… "Obama mulls openly gay" sounded to close to "Obama mauls openly gay". Sounded a little negative at first. Glad I kept reading past the title. This would be awesome to see!

  3. Jack Ade

    December 6, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    I am a solid Democrat and I heartily approve. IT IS TIME!

  4. J Benoit Rosley

    December 6, 2012 at 5:50 pm


  5. Andrew Hartman

    December 6, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Out of the closet and into the cabinet!

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Louisiana lawmakers fail to overturn Edwards veto of Trans sports bill

Edwards further said that the bill was “mean” because it targets “the most emotionally fragile children in the state of Louisiana.”



Louisiana Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards (Photo Credit: Official state portrait)

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana lawmakers failed to override Gov. John Bel Edwards’ (D) veto last month of a bill that would have barred trans girls and women from participating on athletic teams or in sporting events designated for girls or women at elementary, secondary and postsecondary schools.

The measure, Senate Bill 156 authored by Sen. Beth Mizell titled the ‘the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,’ in the Governor’s eyes, “was a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist in Louisiana,” Edwards said in his veto statement;

“As I have said repeatedly when asked about this bill, discrimination is not a Louisiana value, and this bill was a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist in Louisiana. Even the author of the bill acknowledged throughout the legislative session that there wasn’t a single case where this was an issue. 

The Republican majority state House chamber failed to override the Governor’s veto after voting 68-30 to override it, according to the state legislature’s website.

The vote narrowly missed the 70-vote threshold needed in the lower chamber to override the veto.

Two-thirds of both the House and Senate must vote to override a governor’s veto, according to the local Baton Rouge newspaper The Advocate.

The Governor reacted to the news that his veto withstood Republican efforts to overturn it in a press conference Wednesday.

Edwards noted that in his view he had “rejected a play” that had no place in Louisiana. 

“I would rather the headlines going out from today be that Louisiana did what was right and best. We rejected a play out of a national playbook that just had no place in Louisiana. That bill wasn’t crafted for our state, I mean go read it and look at the arguments that were made. None of that applies here,” Edwards said.

He further said that the bill was “mean” because it targets “the most emotionally fragile children in the state of Louisiana.” 

“We have to be better than that,” Edwards said. “We have to be better than that.” 


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Federal court blocks West Virginia Law banning Trans youth sports

“It hurt that the State of West Virginia would try to block me from pursuing my dreams. I just want to play.”



Becky Pepper-Jackson (Photo credit: ACLU/Raymond Thompson)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A judge of the United States District Court, Southern District of West Virginia ruled Wednesday that 11-year-old Becky Pepper-Jackson must be allowed to try out for the girls’ cross-country and track teams at her school, blocking West Virginia from enforcing a law that bans transgender girls and women from participating in school sports. 

The ruling came in the lawsuit challenging the ban filed by Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of West Virginia, and Cooley LLP.

“I am excited to know that I will be able to try out for the girls’ cross-country team and follow in the running shoes of my family,” said Becky Pepper-Jackson, the plaintiff in the lawsuit. “It hurt that the State of West Virginia would try to block me from pursuing my dreams. I just want to play.”

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed H.B. 3293 into law at the end of April. It was one of hundreds of anti-LGBTQ bills pushed in state legislatures across the country in 2021. During legislative debate, it was not endorsed by any mainstream sporting or health organizations. A similar law in Idaho was blocked by a federal court in 2020, and a federal court in Connecticut recently dismissed a challenge to policies that allow all girls, including girls who are transgender, to participate on girls’ sports teams. Legal challenges are underway against similar laws passed in other states.

The Supreme Court recently refused to disturb Gavin Grimm’s victory at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, where he prevailed in challenging his school’s anti-transgender discrimination against him. This decision — which is binding precedent in West Virginia federal court — said that federal law protects transgender students from discrimination in schools.

“This is great news for Becky, and while our work is not done yet, today’s ruling jibes with similar rulings in other courts across the country,” said Avatara Smith-Carrington, Tyron Garner Memorial Law Fellow, Lambda Legal. “It is our hope that courts recognize and address discrimination when they see it, and nowhere is it more visible than in these stark attacks against trans youth.”

“Becky — like all students — should have the opportunity to try out for a sports team and play with her peers,” said Josh Block, senior staff attorney with the ACLU LGBTQ & HIV Project. “We hope this also sends a message to other states to stop demonizing trans kids to score political points and to let these kids live their lives in peace.” 

“We’ve said all along this cruel legislation would not survive a legal challenge, and we’re encouraged by the court’s decision today,” said ACLU-WV Legal Director Loree Stark. “We hope trans kids throughout West Virginia who felt attacked and wronged by the passage of this legislation are feeling empowered by today’s news.”

“We are extremely gratified — for Becky, and for all trans youth — at the court’s recognition that the law and the facts clearly support treating people who are transgender fairly and equally. Discrimination has no place in schools or anywhere else,” said Kathleen Hartnett of Cooley LLP.

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Conservative groups attack proposed Alabama capital city’s LGBTQ law

Allege law requires Christians to violate their religious beliefs



Alabama State Capitol, HIV, gay news, Washington Blade
Alabama State Capitol (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

MONTGOMERY – The Alabama capital’s City Council is being urged to reject a proposed ordinance that would make sexual orientation and gender identity protected classes under the law.  Matthew Clark, the Executive Director of the conservative Alabama Center for Law and Liberty sent a letter on behalf of his group and six allied organizations asking the Council to abandon a vote implementing the ordnance.

According to the letter, the groups allege that the law would require Christians to violate their religious beliefs or face fines under certain circumstances. Prominent among the other signatures is Mathew D. Staver, Chairman of Liberty Counsel which the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as an extremist anti-LGBTQ hate group.

The SPLC, which has its headquarters in Montgomery, writes; “The Liberty Counsel has also been active in the battle against same-sex marriage and hate crimes legislation, which it claimed in a 2007 news release to be “’thought crimes’ laws that violate the right to freedom of speech and of conscience” and will “have a chilling effect on people who have moral or religious objections to homosexual behavior.” In that same release, the Liberty Counsel falsely claimed that the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyo., had nothing to do with homosexuality, but instead was “a bungled robbery.”

In the letter Clark noted; ““As we read the ordinance, churches could be fined if they refuse to allow transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice, and they might be fined if they refused to let same-sex couples use their facilities for weddings,” Clark said. “They could also be fined if they declined to hire non-ministerial personnel, such as facility managers or secretaries, whose sexual orientation or gender identity contradicts the tenants of the church’s faith.”

“Christian schools, small business owners, and homeowners are also in the crosshairs. Schools could face liability if they decline to let transgender students use the locker rooms of their choice,” Clark said. “Small business owners like Jack Phillips [referring to Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission] could face liability. And homeowners who list their homes on Airbnb could be fined if they declined to let a same-sex couple engage in sexual activities in their home that violate the tenants of their faith.”

Clark then warned the City Council that if it passes the ordinance, litigation could result and the City would likely lose.

The Montgomery Advertiser reported last month that City Mayor Steven Reed said a council vote in favor of the LGTBQ nondiscrimination ordinance that’s now being drafted in Montgomery would send a message. 

“There are signals that communities can send, and this is an important signal not only to those residents that live here right now but people all over the country that have maybe one idea of Alabama and Montgomery, and we want to show them that there’s a different reality here,” he said. 

Reed and his team have been working with the Human Rights Campaign and other advocacy groups to draft an ordinance that would expand protections for LGBTQ residents in the state’s capital city. The proposed measure, which would specifically target discrimination in government, employment and housing based on sexual orientation or gender identity the Advertiser reported.

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