President Obama is considering
nominating an openly gay man to a top civilian Pentagon post, the
Washington Post reported Thursday.
The president, under
pressure from gay activists to live up to campaign promises he
made to help secure greater rights for gay men and lesbians, is
considering nominating William White to a high-ranking civilian
The paper did not disclose the post
being considered, but White, chief operating officer of Manhattan's
Intrepid Museum Foundation, was once touted by top retired military
leaders and some Democrats in Congress to be the next Secretary of
While heading the Intrepid, White has
accumulated extensive contacts in the armed forces, and in 1996, he
was awarded the Meritorious Public Service Award for his work with
His consideration for the top spot drew
praise from gay rights groups and fire from social conservatives.
Joe Solmonese, president of the Human
Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay and lesbian rights
advocate, said the appointment would be a “concrete demonstration”
of Obama's commitment to serving all Americans.
“It's a matter of judgment, and I
think that would be very poor judgment on the part of the commander
in chief,” said Center for Military Readiness President Elaine
Donnelly, whose group opposes the repeal of the military's ban on
open gay service known as “don't ask, don't tell.” “It would
be very demoralizing for the troops.”
Eventually, Obama passed on White for
the job, opting instead on Ray Mabus.
Paul Sousa, founder of Equal Rep, the
Boston-based group that lobbied Obama to nominate White in January,
was pleased with the news, but said it was unlikely to defuse the
firestorm of protest underway against the administration's defense of
the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
“It's commendable that President
Obama would nominate a well qualified openly gay man to this civil
post,” Sousa told On Top Magazine. Then
added, “Our criticism will not stop until he rescinds that
repugnant brief or repeals DOMA.”
Gay activists – and allies – have
criticized the administration for defending DOMA in a brief against a
California gay couple who have sued the federal government, claiming
the law is unconstitutional. Candidate Obama promised the would
Critics have decried the brief,
labeling it “homophobic” for drawing parallels between gay
marriage and incestuous and polygamous relationships, and its
reliance on outdated and inaccurate gay stereotypes.