Less than halfway through his first term, President Barack Obama has appointed more openly gay officials than any other president in history.Who saya Barry doesn't love teh gheys?
Gay activists say the estimate of more than 150 appointments so far — from agency heads and commission members to policy officials and senior staffers — surpasses the previous high of about 140 reached during two full terms under President Bill Clinton.
"From everything we hear from inside the administration, they wanted this to be part of their efforts at diversity," said Denis Dison, spokesman for the Presidential Appointments Project of the Gay & Lesbian Leadership Institute.
The pace of appointments has helped to ease broader disappointment among gay rights groups that Obama has not acted more quickly on other fronts, such as ending the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that bans gays from serving openly in the military.
In a sign of how times have changed, few of the appointees — about two dozen required Senate confirmation — have stirred much controversy. It's a far cry from the 1993 furor surrounding Clinton's nomination of then-San Francisco Supervisor Roberta Achtenberg as assistant secretary for Housing and Urban Development.
Achtenberg was the first openly gay official to serve at such a senior level, and she won confirmation despite contentious hearings and Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., who denounced her as a "militant extremist."
"It's both significant and rather ordinary," said Michael Cole, a spokesman for the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign. "It's a simple affirmation of the American ideal that what matters is how you do your job and not who you are."