First Lady Attends Berry Swearing In

John Berry was officially sworn in Thursday as director of the Office of Personnel Management at an event attended by First Lady Michelle Obama and a who's who of Washington LGBTs.

BY Kerry Eleveld

April 23 2009 12:00 AM ET

Following the ceremony,
the First Lady shook hands with folks in the crowd and greeted
Dr. Frank Kameny.

"She had
apparently been briefed," Kameny said. "She thanked me for
my past contributions. I was very surprised, I didn't
expect it," he said, adding that he's "a very great fan"
of the First Lady.

Berry told reporters he
was excited about getting to work because his senior staff at
OPM was "top flight." He singled out gay Clinton vet Elaine
Kaplan, "one of the brightest attorneys in town," and
former HRC executive director Vic Basile, "he's going
to be my utility infielder - my short stop, if you
will."

"I hired my team,
each one of them, because of their skills," he said, "and
it just so happened they turned out to be a diverse group of
people."

When asked what he
might focus on initially for LGBT employees, Berry noted that
there's currently no enforcement mechanism for President
Clinton's executive order protecting gays and lesbians from
discrimination in the federal work force.

"So we're going to be
looking at ways to make sure that, those rules, if they are
violated, people have a process by which they can achieve
justice," Berry said.

Transgender people are
not covered by that executive order and Berry said he would
"be discussing" that with the President and other relevant
entities of the federal government.

"It is certainly my
intention in everything that I will do," he said, "to
provide that protection for people in our transgender
communities."

On a broader scale,
Berry is looking to employ veterans returning from Iraq,
Afghanistan and elsewhere.

"They're going
to come back and they're not trained for jobs,
they're not welcomed back to the work force," he said.
"I want them to know that they're welcome here in the
federal work force … If we can engineer and develop an
effective training program, I think we can more effectively
employ veterans who are coming back from service abroad."

Tags: Politics

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