Bill Richardson was named as Barack Obama’s choice for Commerce Secretary yesterday.
Mr Richardson, who served in the Clinton Administraton, was an early contender for the Democratic nomination for President.
Another former Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, was named by President-elect Obama as his nominee for Secretary of State on Monday.
If confirmed by the Senate she will be the first former First Lady to hold a Cabinet position.
Robert Gates will stay on as Defence Secretary, the first holder of that office to serve two Presidents from different political parties.
Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano has been nominated as the first female Secretary of Homeland Security.
Barack Obama beat Republican John McCain on Election Day, November 4th.
He will take office on January 20th.
Mr Richardson, the Governor of New Mexico, is the first Hispanic American to be nominated to the new Cabinet.
During his term as Governor he has supported LGBT rights.
“With his breadth and depth of experience in public life, Governor Richardson is uniquely suited for this role as a leading economic diplomat for America,” President-elect Obama said at the Chicago press conference announcing the appointment.
“In the end, Bill Richardson is a leader who shares my values…I know that [he] will be an unyielding advocate for American business and American jobs, at home and around the world.”
Governor Richardson dropped out of the Democratic Presidential candidate race in January after fourth place finishes in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries.
As Governor of New Mexico he has become a popular role model for Hispanic Americans, a growing demographic in the US.
Carlos Gutierrez, the current Commerce Secretary, was born in Cuba.
America’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans group welcomed the nomination of Eric Holder as Attorney General of the United States earlier this week.
Human Rights Campain said Mr Holder, who would be the first African-American to hold the office, proved himself to be “a strong advocate for fairness and basic rights and an unswerving proponent of fully-inclusive federal hate crimes legislation.”
US news sources are reporting that a lesbian employment rights activist is one of three people being considered for the post of Labour Secretary.
Mary Beth Maxwell’s position on the shortlist has excited gay groups; if nominated and confirmed by the Senate she would become the first openly gay person to serve in the US Cabinet.
In August 2007 Mr Richardson made a notable gaffe during the campaign when he said being gay was a choice during a televised Presidential forum on gay rights.
In an interview with OutQ a few days later he said:
“I screwed up. I didn’t understand the question. I had flown all night from New Hampshire, that shouldn’t be an excuse, but I made a mistake, I screwed up.
“What I believe is that this is an issue that you’re born with. It’s not a choice, it’s not a lifestyle, and I didn’t understand the question.
“What I thought that the question was, and this was my mind at the time, that there was an implication that politics intervenes with science.
“And, I always love the word choice. I’m for freedom of choice, I have in my health care plan a choice where everybody can keep their health care plan. And so I always kind of feel it’s a golden word, and I didn’t think through what Melissa was asking me. I didn’t understand the question.
“I think I should be judged on my actions. My actions are I’ve got the best gay-lesbian record of any governor and the best gay-lesbian record of any of the presidential candidates.”
Directly after the forum, Richardson’s campaign issued a clarification.
“Let me be clear, I do not believe that sexual orientation or gender identity happen by choice,” Governor Richardson’s statement read.
“But I’m not a scientist, and the point I was trying to make is that no matter how it happens, we are all equal and should be treated that way under the law.
“That is what I believe, that is what I have spent my career fighting for. I ask that people look at my record and my actions, and they will see I have been a true supporter of the LGBT community.”
If his nomination as Secretary of Commerce is confirmed by the Senate he will take control of the United States Department of Commerce, concerned with business and industry.
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