Lanae Erickson Hatalsky, vice president for the social policy and politics program at Third Way, was among the 18 appointees named on Wednesday to the President’s third Advisory Council on Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships.
“I am confident that these outstanding men and women will serve the American people well, and I look forward to working with them,” Obama said in a statement.
Erickson Hatalsky told the Washington Blade she’s excited about her appointment because having LGBT people on the council would have a positive impact.
“I am deeply honored to serve this president, who has been the most passionate advocate LGBT Americans have ever had in the White House,” Erickson Hatalsky said. “I was appointed to bring my experience and knowledge to the table to engage in an interfaith dialogue and find common ground, not to advocate for a particular viewpoint. But we know that having LGBT people at the table changes the conversation, making everyone more conscious of the impact policy decisions will have on our community.”
The council is intended to bring together religious and secular leaders as well as experts in faith-based and neighborhood organizations. According to the White House, the council focuses on efforts to reduce poverty and inequality, including delivery of services by faith-based organizations to low-income people.
In 2001, former President George W. Bush formed the Office of Faith-Based & Community Initiatives, which was criticized for alleging violating the Establishment Clause under the First Amendment by using tax money to fund religion. Upon taking office, Obama reformed the office, renaming it and creating an advisory council composed of both religious and secular leaders.
According to Third Way’s website, Erickson Hatalsky promotes a moderate approach to social issues, such as LGBT rights, immigration, abortion, religious liberty and guns. She’s advocated for passage of statewide ballot initiatives in favor of same-sex marriage and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. In 2012, she married Laura Erickson Hatalsky, with whom she lives in D.C.