John Berry Hub

Australian Right-Winger Demands Resignation Of Gay U.S. Ambassador John Berry: VIDEO

RealjohnberryPeter Madden, a member of the Family First party in Tasmania and former Senate candidate, has called for the resignation of John Berry, the United States Ambassador to Australia. Berry (right), the former director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, secured the position in August after President Obama's June nomination.

As Towleroad previously reported, he is the first openly gay person to hold an ambassador position for a G-20 country.  

The Herald Sun reports on Madden's concerns:

Mr Berry, who is openly gay, introduced himself to the nation via a YouTube video last month in which he referred to his partner, Curtis Yee, as his spouse.

The couple have been together for 17 years and married in Washington DC in August.

But on Twitter, Mr Madden said Mr Berry's use of the term "spouse" was "a clear and deliberate contravention of Aus law".

The right-winger took to Twitter to vent his frustration early this morning:


Australia has not yet legalized same-sex marriage, a fact which, according to Madden, should be used to oust Berry from his position. Will Berry respond, or is this sort of rabble-rousing useless to fight back against? 

Watch the offending video, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Obama Nominates Gay Man as U.S. Ambassador to Australia

John Berry, the former director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, was nominated Friday as U.S. ambassador to Australia, the White House announced on Friday.

BerryOn background from the White House:

John Berry served as the Director of the Office of Personnel Management from April 2009 to April 2013.  Previously, he was the Director of the Smithsonian National Zoological Park from 2005 to 2009, and the Executive Director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation from 2000 to 2005.  From 1997 to 2000, Mr. Berry served as Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management, and Budget at the Department of the Interior.  From 1995 to 1997, he was Director of Government Relations and Senior Policy Advisor at the Smithsonian Institution.  He joined the federal government in 1994 as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Law Enforcement at the Department of Treasury.  Before joining the Department of Treasury, Mr. Berry was the Legislative Director for U.S. Representative Steny Hoyer.  Mr. Berry received a B.A. from the University of Maryland, College Park and an M.P.A. from Syracuse University.

The Washington Blade notes that Berry would be the first openly gay ambassador to a G-20 country. His nomination needs to be confirmed by the Senate.

Will Openly Gay OPM Director Be Next Interior Secretary?

JBerry2The Obama cabinet rearrange continues. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced yesterday he'll step down later this year, leaving yet another open spot for the president to nominate.

As speculation mounts over who could take the spot, one name keeps coming up: John Berry, the openly gay director of the Office of Personnel Management.

From the Washington Post:

Interior secretaries generally hail from the West, and Berry, a Rockville native, does not. But the president is under intense pressure from gay activists to appoint an openly gay secretary to his cabinet, a historic move. And Berry fits the bill.

He also has experience, serving at Interior during the Clinton administration as Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget then moving to direct the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the National Zoo during the second Bush administration. Obama tapped Berry to run OPM in 2009.

Berry has always been very honest about his sexuality, and last May made it the pivot for a moving commencement speech at the University of Maryland.

But an eventual confirmation by the Senate may get confusing: President Obama will have to be very careful when addressing John Berry and potential Secretary of State John Jerry.

Executive Order on ENDA, LGBT Cabinet Member Among Requests HRC Has for President Obama

An executive order on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act "as soon as possible" is at the top of list of requests Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin has for President Obama now that the election is over, he indicated in phone calls with reporters, Buzzfeed's Chris Geidner reports:

Chad_griffinThe White House said in April said Obama was declining to sign the order “at this time, but, following the election, Griffin argues that Obama needs to sign it “as soon as possible."

Griffin said he doesn't know if it will happen before the end of the year, but added that he is pushing for that, saying, "Since my first conversations there, it’s something I’ve pushed for, I’ve urged, privately and publicly. We will continue to do that."

Chris Johnson at the Blade adds:

“We need to acknowledge that although we certainly made some gains in the Senate, and potentially some gains in the House, we are still short of having a vote for an inclusive ENDA in the House,” Griffin said. “We need to be realistic about that.”...

“It is my hope and belief that we can get an executive order out of this White House,” Griffin said. “It is something that should be done and we will continue to urge our newly re-elected president to do. That would not be the full solution, but it would be a step toward the end goal.”

HochbergAlso, Griffin would like to see the apppointment of an LGBT cabinet member, Geidner adds:

"We made historic progress with president Obama in terms of our openly LGBT appointments across the board," he said. "We now have the opportunity, and I hope this president and this White House will seize the opportunity to have the first openly LGBT Cabinet secretary, the first openly LGBT G-8 ambassador, and across the board with administrative appointments and judges as well."

Groups like HRC, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and others, as well as LGBT activists more broadly, have long been pushing for an out LGBT cabinet member, and the urging is likely to continue in earnest as Obama's makes changes for his second-term cabinet.

Among those out gay people whose names are raised most often by advocates for possible appointments are John Berry, the head of the Office of Personnel Management; Fred Hochberg (bottom photo), the head of the Export-Import Bank; and Mary Kay Henry, the head of the Service Employees International Union.

Also on everyone's mind is getting rid of DOMA, which may soon be addressed by the Supreme Court, but given the composition of Congress, has few chances at a legislative repeal.

OPM director John Berry Talks About Changing Face of Gay Rights, Late Partner in Speech to UMD Grads: VIDEO


On May 20, John Berry, the out Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel and Management gave the commencement address at the University of Maryland. Berry told grads about the changing face of the LGBT rights movement, and  pioneering activist Frank Kameny, who was fired for his federal job for being gay.

In 1957 – not long before I was born – a man named Frank Kameny was fired from his Federal job, just for being gay. This was a man who fought his way across Europe in World War II, came home, got a Harvard Ph.D., and was told he was unfit to serve. In fact that every gay person was a security risk. He was called a criminal and a pervert by the head of the Civil Service – the precursor to the office I hold.

Frank fought back. He was the first American who did. All the way to the Supreme Court. He lost. But he persisted. He joined together with allies, and slowly – at times very slowly – he changed opinions and changed laws.

Berry also spoke of his late partner:

When I came out, my Dad asked me to never bring my partner to the house. This was hard because we were a close family, that gathered every Sunday for dinner, even after we'd all left home. Ten years later, when my partner was dying of AIDS, it was my father, a man who survived the Great Depression and Guadalcanal, who held him in his arms weeping, and saying "I love you like my own son."

Wounds do heal. Minds do change.

That is the value of truth. It lays a bedrock of certainty that the sand of half-truths can never rival. Be true to yourself and your values, because the world needs the whole you.

Watch (gay rights segment starts at 7:00), AFTER THE JUMP...

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Watch: OPM Director John Berry's 'It Gets Better' Video


John Berry, Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, adds his name to the list of White House officials that have sent messages to bullied gay teens, in a video for the "It Gets Better" project.

Says Berry, in part (my transcript):

"My dad, a Marine sergeant who went to Mass every day, asked me when I came out to him, not to bring my partner over to the house. Ten years later, when my partner was dying from AIDS, my dad held him in his arms and told him, 'I love you like my own son.' Things do get better. And as to my career fears, I am the highest ranking openly gay man in United States history. I have stood on the North Pole, and the South Pole. I have managed 40% of the United States law enforcement including the Secret Service, the Park Service, and I've even been director of the National Zoo. You can be whatever you want. You can love whomever you want. But only if you first love yourself. Trust me, it's worth it."


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