Officials with President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team this week named at least seven openly gay people to transition panels assigned to review federal departments and agencies.
Three of the seven gays named to the transition panels — businessman Fred P. Hochberg, former San Francisco Supervisor Roberta Achtenberg, and labor attorney Elaine Kaplan — held high-level positions in the Clinton administration.
The Obama officials also named President Bush’s former ambassador to Romania, Michael Guest, to a transition panel assigned to review issues pertaining to the State Department. Guest became the nation’s second openly gay ambassador when Bush appointed him to the Romania post for a term lasting from 2001 to 2003.
Several national gay rights advocacy groups, meanwhile, were said to be considering whether to hold one or more gay-related events during the week of Obama’s Inauguration on Jan. 20.
During President Clinton’s inaugural festivities in 1993 and 1997, gay groups, including the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund — held as many as a dozen events, including a gay inaugural ball.
Gay choruses and gay marching bands also participated in some of Clinton’s official inaugural ceremonies. In 1993 and 1997, AIDS activists, at Clinton’s invitation, marched in the official Inaugural Parade while carrying cloth panels from the National AIDS Quilt.
Officials with HRC, the Task Force and the Victory Fund said they were deliberating over whether to sponsor gay-related events for the Obama inauguration, and HRC was expected to announce plans soon for another gay inaugural ball. But no plans had been announced by mid-week.
The seven known gays appointed to the Obama transition review teams are among more than 300 people appointed to transition review panels this week.
“The Agency Review Teams for the Obama-Biden Transition will complete a thorough review of key departments, agencies and commissions of the United States government as well as the White House,” a statement posted Monday on the transition team web site states.
The teams will “provide the president-elect, the vice president-elect, and key advisors with information needed to make strategic policy, budgetary, and personnel decisions prior to the inauguration,” the statement says.
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