Early Biden Administration Picks Show Diversity & Experience

Former Vice President Joe Biden (via campaign)

President-elect Joe Biden told voters during the 2020 campaign that his cabinet and staff would reflect the diversity of the American people. And early in the transition, he appears to be keeping those promises.

So far, he’s announced the following picks for high profile positions in his administration:

Janet Yellen, expected to be nominated as Treasury Secretary, would be the first woman to ever hold the position.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, to be nominated as ambassador to the United Nations, would be the first Black woman to serve in that capacity.

• Cuban American Alejandro Mayorkas, nominated for homeland security secretary, would be the first Latino to hold the cabinet position.

Avril Haines, a former CIA deputy director, could be the first woman to be the director of national intelligence if confirmed

• Carlos Elizondo, an openly gay event planner who lives in Washington with his partner, has been tapped to be the social secretary in the Biden White House. Elizondo is the first LGBTQ person to be named to a prominent position in the incoming administration.

Karine Jean-Pierre, a Black lesbian, is reported to be a top contender for White House press secretary.

Other experienced names previewed include former Senator/Secretary of State/Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry as Biden’s ‘Climate Czar,’ and former Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken as Secretary of State.

As many in the media have noted, many of those we’re hearing about hold deep experience in their respective niches.

While Donald Trump liked to surprise and entertain with unexpected and disjointed choices in key roles, you can almost hear a sigh of relief in the ‘mundane-ness’ of Biden’s picks.

Brendan Buck, ex-counselor to former Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, wrote on Twitter, “These Biden nominations and appointments are so delightfully boring.”

News Round-Up: December 27, 2019

(image via Instagram/Chippendales)

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: My brother is in town for the holidays, and that means we have to head down at some point to see the world-famous Chippendales (above) at the Rio Hotel here in Las Vegas. The sold-out show totally rocked. If you can’t get to Vegas, the Chipps just announced a 30 city tour beginning in late January. Click here for dates and tix. #Grrr

JoeMyGod: A teenage boy who alleges sexual abuse by a priest killed the priest by shoving a crucifix down his throat.

The Gaily Grind: Disney has cut a brief scene featuring Star Wars’ first same-sex kiss from its new movie “The Rise of Skywalker” in Singapore, a country where same-sex marriage is illegal and sex between men is punishable by up to two years in prison.

KIT212: Kenneth has the lowdown on the what’s what in gay rags across the country like Chicago’s GRAB Magazine celebrating ‘The Men of Bullies and Biceps.”

Washington Blade: Amid speculation Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will leave his position to pursue his old job as U.S. senator in Kansas, Donald Trump is considering U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell –  who’s also the highest-ranking openly gay person in his administration – as a replacement.

NY Times: Foreign teachers at some private schools in Indonesia have been required to answer questions and many more like them in what has been billed as a psychological exam to determine teachers’ sexual orientation and attitude toward gay rights. A 2015 government regulation prohibits international schools from hiring foreign teachers who have “an indication of abnormal sexual behavior or orientation.”

HuffPost: Donald Trump likes to brag that he donates his $400,000 annual salary as president to charities. But according to folks tracking the Trumpster’s golf habit, his passion for the links has now cost taxpayers $118 million – or about 296 years of that presidential salary. Remember when he said if elected he’d “never leave the White House…?”

Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo Recognizes LGBTI Pride Month

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued this statement recognizing June as LGBTI Pride Month:

The United States joins people around the world in celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) Pride Month, and reaffirms its commitment to protecting and defending the human rights of all, including LGBTI persons.

In many parts of the world, LGBTI individuals and their supporters continue to face violence, arrest, harassment and intimidation for standing up for their human rights, participating in peaceful marches and rallies, expressing their views, and simply being who they are. LGBTI persons – like all persons – must be free to enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association, without fear of reprisal. As Americans, we place a high value on these rights and freedoms, which all persons deserve to enjoy fully and equally.

The United States stands firmly with you as you exercise your human rights and fundamental freedoms. We wish you a safe and happy Pride Month.

While the statement is certainly appreciated, especially from one of the most vital offices in the United States when it comes to human rights, it’s worth nothing that during his confirmation hearings Pompeo reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage.

White House: Do Democrats Love This Country More Than They Hate Trump?

As CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s chances of being confirmed as the new Secretary of State get dimmer and dimmer, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders decried Senate Democrats’ lack of support for the nominee.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, appearing this morning on Fox News, called out Senate Democrats for “hating” the Donald more than they love their country.

“Look, at some point, Democrats have to decide whether they love this country more than they hate this president. And they have to decide that they want to put the safety and the security and the diplomacy of our country ahead of their own political games. And we’re very hopeful that they will. Mike Pompeo is a highly qualified individual, top of his class at Harvard, first in his class at West Point. He’s been an impeccable CIA director.”

Do none of these people remember Republicans blocked President Obama at every turn???

HRC Endorses Nelson Araujo For Nevada Secretary Of State

Nevada Assemblyman Nelson Araujo

The Human Rights Campaign has endorsed Assemblyman Nelson Araujo (D-Las Vegas) for Nevada Secretary of State. This endorsement is the organization’s first ever for a secretary of state race.

If elected, Araujo would become the first LGBTQ person elected to statewide office.

“Millions of Americans–including LGBTQ people of color and transgender Americans–are more vulnerable to discrimination at the ballot box than ever before,” said HRC Nevada State Manager Briana Escamilla. “Nevadans can trust they have a proven champion of fairness and justice in Nelson Araujo and HRC is proud to endorse his candidacy for Secretary of State. We look forward to Assemblyman Araujo making history in November as the first openly LGBTQ person elected to statewide office in the Silver State.”

“The Human Rights Campaign has been an incredible force in the fight for equality in America. As a member of the LGBTQ community who has been working diligently to advance pro-LGBTQ policies in Nevada, this endorsement is personal. As Secretary of State, I will do all I can to ensure that we develop a more diverse, inclusive Nevada that works for everyone,” said Araujo.

Araujo has been a member of the Nevada State Assembly for two terms, serving as Assistant Majority Floor Leader in the most recent legislative session. Throughout his time in the State Legislature, he has consistently led the fight on LGBTQ equality, and was instrumental in last year’s push for a statewide ban on so-called “conversion therapy” for minors. He was also political co-chair of the HRC Las Vegas steering committee from 2011 to 2014. If elected, Araujo would be the first Latinx Secretary of State in Nevada and the first openly LGBTQ person elected to statewide office in Nevada.

He will be facing incumbent Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, who is seeking a second term. During her time as a state legislator prior to becoming Secretary of State, Cegavske opposed marriage equality and was the lead sponsor of a bill that would have allowed discrimination against LGBTQ people in housing and public accommodations.

Folks love a local success story.

Araujo is a native Nevadan born and raised in Las Vegas. He received both his bachelor’s degree in communication studies and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

In the 2017 session, all seven of the priority bills Nelson authored were passed by a Democratic legislature with bipartisan support and signed into law by a Republican governor.

So this is a guy who works well with others to get things done.

Click here for more info on Araujo.

Sec. Of State Kerry Formally Apologizes To State LGBT Staffers For Decades Of Discrimination

With less than two weeks left in the Obama administration, Secretary of State John Kerry took yet another opportunity to acknowledge and promote LGBT inclusion by formally apologizing to State department staffers for past discrimination due to their sexual orientation.

Here’s the full statement as posted on the State department’s website:

Throughout my career, including as Secretary of State, I have stood strongly in support of the LGBTI community, recognizing that respect for human rights must include respect for all individuals. LGBTI employees serve as proud members of the State Department and valued colleagues dedicated to the service of our country. For the past several years, the Department has pressed for the families of LGBTI officers to have the same protections overseas as families of other officers. In 2015, to further promote LGBTI rights throughout the world, I appointed the first ever Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons.

In the past – as far back as the 1940s, but continuing for decades – the Department of State was among many public and private employers that discriminated against employees and job applicants on the basis of perceived sexual orientation, forcing some employees to resign or refusing to hire certain applicants in the first place. These actions were wrong then, just as they would be wrong today.

On behalf of the Department, I apologize to those who were impacted by the practices of the past and reaffirm the Department’s steadfast commitment to diversity and inclusion for all our employees, including members of the LGBTI community.

(h/t JoeMyGod)

White Nationalist Website Breitbart Running Popularity Contest For Secretary Of State

From the white supremacist website Breitbart:

President-Elect Donald Trump has not yet announced his pick for Secretary of State, though the press has speculated on several prospective candidates. You, the Breitbart reader, were instrumental in Trump’s election victory and the continuing rise of America’s nationalist-populist movement. We want to know who you would prefer to serve as the country’s chief diplomat.

This is the website that newly-appointed White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon ran for years.

Trust and believe, Team Trump is watching this.

Hillary Clinton Campaign Pre-Empts Benghazi Hearing With Secretary Of State Highlight Reel

In advance of her upcoming appearance before a Congressional hearing regarding questions about the use of a private email server, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign has released this spot highlighting her many accomplishments.

The video is a virtual “sizzle reel” of her work at the State Department that includes endorsements and testimonials from Cabinet officials and other high level politicos praising Clinton’s diplomatic work.

According to the Washington Post, the campaign will also organize public appearances and outreach by prominent surrogates to make a case this week that Clinton’s four years as secretary of state are anything but a liability.

It’s worth noting that although she left the State department with approval ratings well into the high 60%, Donald Trump (who previous to his own campaign praised her) now calls her tenure a disaster.