Did White House Social Secretary Jeremy Bernard Get the Job Because He's Gay?

Jeanne Sager
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to do listJeremy Bernard just worked his way into a whole bunch of record books today. President Obama's pick for the new White House social secretary is the first man to get the job. And he happens to be the first openly gay American to hold the post.

Don't think his sexuality matters? He's just a person, period? You're only half right.

Being an old Obama family pal is not enough to be given the important task of overseeing State Dinners. You don't get to woo world leaders, unless you've done something big for a president, and Bernard's relationship with the president seems intrinsically tied to his own homosexuality.

The Texas native has been an Obama backer for years -- no surprise there. The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart is a pal and says Bernard and former partner Ruffus Gifford (now finance director of the Democratic National Committee) used their company, B&G Associates, to help bring in a ton of cash in the president's campaign days

By the time the Democratic Convention in Denver came around back in 2008, Bernard was a superdelegate pledged to Obama -- despite a past relationship with the Clinton clan. He had worked on Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign, and President Clinton rewarded him with an appointment on a presidential advisory committee at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. By rights, he could have been expected to back Hillary Clinton's bid for the presidency.

But it's his own sexuality that has played a major role in Bernard's relationship with Obama. Bernard helped sway gay voters from Hillary to Obama because he was disappointed with the former president's failure to step up to the plate for gay causes. Dubbed an LGBT political powerbroker, he worked with the likes of the Human Rights Campaign to encourage a gay turnout for the president. Poll estimates show as much as 80 percent of gay voters turned out for Obama, resulting in a win that HRC's director called a "paradigm shift" for LGBT people.

Bernard played no small roll in that, and Obama has thanked him for it, first with a role as White House Liaison to the National Endowment for the Humanities, and more recently as senior advisor to the ambassador at the U.S. Embassy in Paris. Now it's on to the White House proper, where he can join the president in toasting the pending death of the Defense of Marriage Act!

 

Image via comedynose/Flickr
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