The President-elect of the United States has named Nancy Sutley as Chair of his Council on Environmental Quality in the White House.

Ms Sutley, a former Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles, is the first prominent LGBT person appointed to the new administration.

Speaking in Chicago yesterday, President-elect Obama, who takes office on January 20th, said:

“The team that I have assembled here today is uniquely suited to meet the great challenges of this defining moment.

“They are leading experts and accomplished managers, and they are ready to reform government and help transform our economy so that our people are more prosperous, our nation is more secure, and our planet is protected.

“Nancy Sutley will be an integral part of this team as the Chair of my Council on Environmental Quality in the White House.

“In recent years, we have seen states and cities take the initiative in forging innovative solutions on energy.

“Nancy has been at the cutting edge of this effort – working as a Regional Administrator for the EPA, at the state level in Sacramento, and recently as the Deputy Mayor for Energy and the Environment in Los Angeles.

“Now, she will bring this unique experience to Washington, and be a key player in helping to make our government more efficient, and coordinating our efforts to protect our environment at home and around the globe.”

Gay rights advocates welcomed the appointment.

“President-elect Obama’s nomination of Nancy Sutley is another step toward full equality for gay Americans,” said Chuck Wolfe, president of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.

“It sends a signal to young people that they can participate in their government at its highest levels, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender or ethnicity.

“We will continue to work hard to ensure qualified, talented individuals like Nancy Sutley who are openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender can serve at all levels of government.”

Another gay woman, Mary Beth Maxwell, has been shortlisted for the Cabinet position of Labour Secretary. An announcement is expected before Christmas.