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Posted at 10:50 AM ET, 11/09/2012

Gay donors now pressing for top spots for LGBTs in Obama administration


Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin works on a get-out-the-vote push. (Kevin P. Casey - AP Images for Human Rights Campaign)
Various supporters of President Obama — the ones who pulled out their wallets and turned out their constituencies for his reelection — will soon be coming to call at the White House.

Knock, knock...

Hey, it’s the Human Rights Campaign, which wants to see a second Obama administration make gay rights an even bigger priority than it did in the last four years.

HRC president Chad Griffin told our colleague Ned Martel the day after the election that his organization would love to see an openly gay Cabinet secretary and an openly gay ambassador to a G-20 nation. Both would be firsts (David Huebner, who’s gay, is ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, but the HRC wants one of the big-deal countries). Griffin says there are plenty of qualified candidates out there — enough to fill up a binder or two. “Our government, particularly in this administration, looks like America,” he says. “And it’s important to have a cabinet that looks like America.”

In not-unrelated news, gay money was a key to Obama’s fundraising success. A dozen members of his national finance team are gay, and we’re hearing that they collectively outraised other “affinity groups” — categories like “Latinos” or “trial lawyers” — represented on the team.

Money aside, gays even can make the argument that they handed Obama the election: according to exit polling, 5 percent of voters identified themselves as gay, and 76 percent of those voters supported the Democratic ticket. Of voters who didn’t identify as gay, only 49 percent voted for Obama.

There’s a grand tradition of presidents rewarding their biggest donors with choice ambassadorships. And Obama would have plenty of gay donors (like power couple Michael Smith, the famed decorator, and HBO exec James Costos, who were among his biggest bundlers) to choose from to fill some of the choicer embassies around the globe.

As for that Cabinet post, there may be a few openings. We know that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta are definitely planning to head for the hills at some point. Others are mulling the decision — and then there’s the post of Commerce Secretary, which is vacant.

There are certainly some gay candidates who could fit the bill. Among those often talked to fill various Cabinet posts are John Berry, the director of the Office of Personnel Management, and Fred Hochberg, president of the Import-Export Bank, who’s most often mentioned as a possible Commerce Secretary.

Of course, the donations-for-nominations game is never couched as a quid pro quo. But when the door knocks...

By  |  10:50 AM ET, 11/09/2012

 
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