Gay activists are backing Fred Hochberg
as Secretary of Commerce now that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson
has withdrawn himself from consideration.
This is the third attempt by
Boston-based Equal Rep to influence the Obama transition team to pick
an openly gay candidate. The group says its current campaign to
select William White to the position of Secretary of the Navy has
garnered 1,800 confirmed participants.
But a failed effort to lobby the
transition team to consider Mary Beth Maxwell, an openly lesbian
candidate, to the position of Secretary of Labor, ended the
aspirations of gay rights leaders for a cabinet-level appointment.
The group says it gathered over 1,200 confirmed Maxwell supporters.
Instead, Obama picked California Representative Hilda Solis
(Democrat) for the job.
“It was devastating to learn that gay
Americans wouldn't have a seat at the table within Barack Obama's
Cabinet administration,” said Equal Rep Founder Paul Sousa. “They
are the only minority group to have never been appointed in the
history of the United States.”
The commerce opening gives gay rights
activists an unexpected shot to make their case for a cabinet-level
appointment of an openly gay candidate.
The new effort to support Hochberg, the
Dean of the Milano New School for Management and Urban Policy in New
York and a leading fund-raiser for Senator Hillary Clinton's bid for
the White House, was underway hours after the group posted the
campaign on it's website. “The media pickup has been fantastic and
the Facebook group is growing at the fastest rate yet for any of the
campaigns,” Sousa told On Top Magazine.
Sousa said he decided to back Hochberg
soon after Richardson withdrew himself from consideration, calling
him “an outstanding candidate.”
“His credentials are absolutely
impeccable and is really well rounded; he has a ton of business
experience,” he said in an email.
The group, however, has had no contact
with the candidate who is listed at number 26 in gay monthly OUT's
2nd Annual Power 50, which compiles the 50 most
influential openly gay people in America.
On the Net: Equal Rep's campaign is at