Meet Obama's Newest Trans Appointee: Attorney Shannon Minter

Meet Obama's Newest Trans Appointee: Attorney Shannon Minter

Shannon Price Minter, a trans man and legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, was appointed Monday to a "key administration post" in President Obama's Commission on White House Fellowships.

Minter, who will now help interview and recommend "fellows" — year-long, paid assistants to senior White House staff — to the president, has already made a name for himself as a successful legal advocate for same-sex couples and LGBT families.

Minter first gained national recognition in 2001, when his work helped extend the federal court's legal recognition of same-sex domestic partners with a victory in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the partner of Diane Whipple, a lesbian mauled to death by a dog.

Two years later, thousands watched a national broadcast of Minter arguing for the right of Florida trans man Michael Kantaras to keep custody of his children. Though Minter had won the case in a 2002 trial, the Florida Supreme Court ultimately upheld an appeal in 2004, and the Kantaras family settled on joint custody a year later.

In recent years, Minter has helped push marriage equality forward. In 2009, he was the lead attorney arguing before the California Supreme Court for the overturn of Proposition 8, the voter-approved ballot measure that temporarily banned same-sex marriages in the state. Though Minter lost that case, the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 affirmed a federal judge's decision striking down Prop. 8. Minter was indirectly involved in that federal case through his capacity with NCLR. 

Continuing his work for marriage equality, last year Minter was one of the lead attorneys in the lawsuit that helped lead to equal marriage in Florida, according to the Miami Herald.

Minter, who is based in San Francisco, now joins the Obama administration's three other openly trans appointees, which include the Defense Department's Amanda Simpson and Shawn Skelly, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency's Jay Davis, according to the Huffington Post. The Washington Blade notes that Dylan Orr, who now works inSeattle's city government, became the president's first openly trans appointee when he was named special assistant in the Labor Department's Office of Disability Employment Policy in 2009.

Accepting the president's appointment Monday, Minter shared in a statement that he was "deeply honored."

"As a transgender man, I am especially grateful to President Obama for his commitment to building a government that reflects the full diversity of our country and for supporting equal opportunity for all people," he said.

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