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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 4, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 05
Three Gay appointments by Obama administration
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Three Gay appointments by Obama administration

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

On January 26, President Obama announced the appointment of three openly Gay or Lesbian federal officials.

Roberta Achtenberg, who co-founded the National Center for Lesbian Rights, was chosen to sit on the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

Achtenberg had previously been Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Clinton administration. Before serving at HUD, she had been a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and a Trustee of California State University.

Her current appointment is not likely to match the controversy that attended her appointment by President Clinton.

In 1993, Achtenberg was the first openly Lesbian official to serve at such a senior level, and she won confirmation in spite of contentious Senate hearings in which Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) denounced her as a 'militant extremist.'

Jeffrey Levi, AIDS researcher and executive director of Trust for America's Health, will become a member of the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health.

During the Clinton administration, Levi served as deputy director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy.

J. Paul Oetken was appointed to the U.S. District Court for Southern New York.

If he is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Oetken will become the third openly Gay federal judge in the country.

Like Achtenberg and Levi, Oetken also served in the Clinton administration, where he was associate counsel to the president in the office of the White House Counsel.

Oetken is currently a senior vice president and associate general counsel at Cablevision Systems.

According to activists, President Obama has appointed more LGBT officials than any president in U.S. history.

With some 150 appointments so far - from agency heads and commission members to policy officials and senior staffers - Obama's record surpasses the previous high of about 140 reached during two full terms under President Bill Clinton.

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