Saturday, April 13, 2013

John Berry, Highest Ranked Gay Federal Employee, Resigns

The highest ranked gay appointee of the Obama administration, John Berry, the head of the Office of Personnel Management (formerly known as the U.S. Civil Service Commission) has decided to leave his position, effective this week. Technically, Berry's term as head of the federal government's "human resources department" is four years and he started on April 13, 2009 but if he had wanted to stay another four years the President would have re-appointed him. Berry was head of the agency when the Obama administration announced it was extending some (mostly non-financial) benefits to domestic partners of federal employees.

The White House issued a statement about Berry's departure from OPM:

April 12, 2013

Statement by the President on John Berry’s Departure

John Berry has served the American people well as Director of the Office of Personnel Management.  He’s streamlined the way federal employees are hired, modernized the workplace, made the federal workforce more diverse, and increased the number of returning servicemembers hired by the government.  John has been a champion for federal workers – men and women who devote their lives to vital tasks like securing our borders, curing disease, and keeping the American people safe.  This country is better off because of John’s talent and dedication, and I’m grateful to him for his service.


At OPM, Berry will be temporarily replaced by the openly lesbian General Counsel of the Agency, Elaine Kaplan. Kaplan is on Lias Keen's recently compiled list of the Top 12 LGBT Presidential Appointments by the Obama administration and has also been named to be the Chief Judge of the (obscure but important) U.S. Court of Federal Claims, a federal appellate court. Interestingly, Berry is being rumored to be on the top of the short list to be named Ambassador to Australia. LGBT activists had been pushing for the President to name an openly LGBT cabinet secretary, and it was hoped that Berry would be that name. With Berry's experience of running the National Zoo and the National Wildlife Commission, he was thought to be a serious contender for Secretary of the Interior Department.

Ambassador for Australia would be interesting, because the current Ambassador to New Zealand is an openly gay man, David Heubner. Both Australia and New Zealand are in the middle of national political conversations about enacting marriage equality, with New Zealand making much more progress towards legislative change than Australia. If other rumors are true, Berry and Heubner would not be the Obama administration's only openly gay ambassadors, since the President is also considering his 2012 campaign's openly gay fundraising chairman Rufus Gifford to be named Ambassador to Denmark. I think that's a pretty good reward for being responsible for raising $1 billion for Obama-Biden 2012, don't you?

It seems to me Rufus should get his pick of which country to go (within reason, of course, I'm sure there are sensitive geo-political concerns that have to be balanced). If you could be Ambassador to anywhere, where would you pick? I think I would pick Italy (probably taken), South Africa or the Netherlands. Iceland would be great, as well! Which country would you pick?

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin