Justice Dept. Hires Gay Activist as Senior Counselor

By Ed O'Keefe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 18, 2009 3:44 PM

The Justice Department's civil rights division has hired a veteran Senate staffer and gay-rights activist as a senior counselor and liaison to the gay and lesbian community. The hire comes amid efforts by the Obama administration to mollify growing impatience and displeasure among gays and lesbians with how the White House is handling issues important to them.

Matt Nosanchuk once worked for the Justice Department's Office of Policy Development and has also assisted Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.). He also advised Barack Obama's presidential campaign on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues.

Word of Nosanchuk's hiring spread this week after Tobias Wolff, another LBGT campaign adviser to Obama, informed colleagues of it in an e-mail. The Justice Department confirmed the move Tuesday.

"Among his primary duties, Matt will help manage the Division's Criminal Section and pursue key policy priorities. He will represent the Division in many capacities, including work with Congress and the LGBT community," according to a Justice Department statement.

Of late, the administration has been patching up relations with that community. On Monday, administration lawyers made it clear that Obama thinks the Defense of Marriage Act discriminates against gays and should be repealed. Two weeks ago, the Census Bureau announced it will, for the first time, publicly report in a Census the number of same-sex marriages. Earlier this summer, President Obama extended some benefits to the gay partners of federal employees.

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