Taking Back the Workplace

In the 1950s, Frank Kameny was fired from his job in the Army Map Service for "sexual perversion." Now he's watching an openly gay man run the very office once responsible for scrubbing gays from the government.

BY Kerry Eleveld

April 03 2009 12:00 AM ET

Hirsch noted that Berry
will have plenty of obstacles on his hands, not the least of
which is updating, streamlining, and synching government
operations, which are notoriously inconsistent and outdated.
"The government on a whole host of issues, including LGBT,
has not been competitive with the private sector," Hirsch
said, adding that the challenges were "daunting." The
government will also be losing a huge brain trust in the coming
years as baby boomers retire in enormous numbers.

But Berry seems
unfazed. "Optimism is the nectar of progress," he said at
one point in his hearing last week, demonstrating the same type
of unflagging determination that Kameny employed in his
battle.

And if anyone is up to
the task, Beth Moten believes it's Berry. "The long and the
short of it is, President Obama could not have made a better
pick than John Berry for director of OPM," said Moten, the
legislative and political director for the American Federation
of Government Employees, a union representing 600,000 federal
workers.

The only thing Moten --
who has known and worked with Berry for years -- couldn't
decide was whether his intellect and command of policy or his
overall affability and people skills were greater attributes
for the job.

"It's hard to say
which is more important," she said. "The ability to walk
into a room and know within a half hour where everybody's
pressure point is and what they need in order to make a deal --
that is a gift from God. If you've got that and you're smart
enough to understand the substance, there's no stopping you.
This town is built for someone like that."

Tags: Politics

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