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Group Pushes For
Gay Man As Commerce Secretary

Group Pushes For
Gay Man As Commerce Secretary

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The Boston-based Equal Rep is pushing for Fred Hochberg to be appointed secretary of Commerce now that Gov. Bill Richardson has withdrawn his name.

The Boston-based group Equal Rep is now pushing for Fred Hochberg to be appointed secretary of Commerce upon Gov. Bill Richardson's withdrawal from consideration for the post, The Boston Globe reports. If tapped, Hochberg, who had originally been considered for the top post at the Small Business Administration, would be the first openly gay person to ever hold a cabinet position.

Sources with knowledge of the transition process tell The Advocate that President-elect Obama's team is considering Hochberg for a senior position in the Administration, though that position may not necessarily be the Commerce post.

Denis Dison, spokesman for the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, echoed the idea that Hochberg's prior experience in the Clinton White House and current tenure as dean of New York's Milano the New School for Management and Urban Policy position him well for consideration.

"Fred Hochberg is an extremely smart and talented public servant, which is why his name repeatedly surfaces in connection with senior posts in the Obama administration," Dison said. "It's incredibly important that openly LGBT professionals have a voice at all levels of their government, which is why we're backing Fred and others like him who want to serve the president and their country."

So far, no openly LGBT person has been named to one of President-elect Obama's 22 cabinet-level posts. The vacancy left by Richardson's withdrawal is the last remaining hope for a gay addition, since all other senior-level cabinet positions have been filled.

"It was devastating to learn that gay Americans wouldn't have a seat at the table within Barack Obama's cabinet administration. They are the only minority group to have never been appointed in the history of the United States," Paul Sousa, Equal Rep's founder, said in a statement. "Fred Hochberg is supremely qualified and this opening is the perfect opportunity for our president-elect to show gay Americans they have not been forgotten and he is truly committed to equal representation."

Equal Rep also made the unsuccessful push for Mary Beth Maxwell to be named secretary of Labor.

Hochberg appeared on Out Magazine's annual Power 50 list in 2009 at number 26. (Kerry Eleveld, Advocate.com)

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