Barack Obama’s promise to nominate the most diverse cabinet ever has Hispanics wondering where are all the Latinos. So far only one has been named – Commerce Secretary Bill Richardson. In assessing the cabinet’s diversity to date, Associated Press writer Nedra Pickler reports that the Obama team is under pressure to name more Hispanics, and then goes on to say the gay community also is pressing for representation.
To me, the gay community’s demand is absolutely ridiculous. Comparing sexual orientation to ethnicity is definitely “apples to oranges.” Being gay is more comparable to – say – being a vegetarian, an equestrian, or an opera lover. It’s a personal matter that reflects a lifestyle choice. If a cabinet selection were based – even partly – on sexual orientation, America would have reached the height of absurdity in “political correctness.” In choosing his cabinet, Obama should not exclude anyone because of sexual orientation, but he definitely should not choose anyone for that reason, either.
I can see why gender would be included in the equation, although I hope the women Obama chooses are selected because of their merit, not just their gender. As the Democratic primary showed, gender is a powerful force in American politics – just as ethnicity is. Fortunately, there are enough talented women to make it easy for Obama to find the abilities he needs in both males and females. There are also more than enough African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians to make selection of an ethnically diverse cabinet quite easy.
You might argue that gays – like women and other minorities – have been discriminated against and, therefore, belong in the same category as women, Hispanics and African-Americans. And it’s true that gays and lesbians have been – and are – often treated unfairly, even cruelly. But sexual orientation is a private matter, and should not be politicized.
A former Canadian Prime Minister, the late Pierre Trudeau, said it best: “The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.”
Photos above show (top, clockwise from top left): Secretary of State nominee Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense nominee Robert Gates, Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy F. Geithner, Ambassador to the United Nations nominee Susan Rice, Secretary of Homeland Security nominee Janet Napolitano and Attorney General nominee Eric Holder; (below): Obama introducing Richardson.