White House Won’t Rule Out Nomination of an Openly Gay Commerce Secretary as Position Opens Up

Last week, Obama nominated Commerce Secretary Gary Locke as U.S. Ambassador to China, and a couple openly gay candidates are in prime positions to fill the Cabinet role. LGBT advocates are hopeful, the Washington Blade reports:

Hochberg Fred Hochberg, who’s gay and director of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, has emerged at the top of the list of LGBT business experts who could fill the role of commerce secretary.

Hochberg, who has a background in business management and once served as deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration, was cited in 2009 as a contender for the position of commerce secretary when it was first open in the Obama administration.

Another name being floated is former Arizona GOP Congressman Jim Kolbe:

Kolbe An expert on trade, Kolbe left Congress and now works as a fellow at the German-Marshall Fund, where he has specialized in trans-Atlantic trade issues. 

[Justin] Nelson, [president of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce] counted Kolbe as among those who could fit the bill for commerce secretary.

“He has a firm understanding of policy,” Nelson said. “Certainly having served on the board of Export-Import Bank, having served in Congress and his work on behalf of the business and the LGBT community would make him another excellent choice.”

The President's choice would be historic, as an openly LGBT person has never filled a cabinet position.

Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, wouldn’t rule out that the president would nominate an openly LGBT person as commerce secretary.

“The president will consider a range of qualified candidates, but we are at a very early stage in the process and no decisions have been made,” Inouye said.