Biden Appoints Out Gay Indian American to Top Post

Gautam Raghavan, here speaking to President Barack Obama in 2013, joins a wave of newly selected LGBTQ officials that will join the Biden-Harris administration.
Pete Souza/ The White House

Gautam Raghavan, an out gay Indian American, will join the new Biden administration as deputy director for the Office of Presidential Personnel, the president-elect’s transition team has announced.

During the Obama administration, Raghavan served as the White House liaison for the LGBTQ, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander communities. In his post in the Biden administration, he will be in charge of recruiting and vetting top candidates for at least 4,000 political appointments to federal agencies from the Department of Labor to the Attorney General’s Office.

“These experienced individuals are joining my administration to carry out policies that will put our nation on a path to building back better than ever before,” Biden said in a press release. “They are respected leaders whose values and priorities align with my own and who will dutifully execute their roles to serve the American people.”

Gautam Raghavan to serve as deputy director of the Office of Presidential Personnel

In a tweet, Raghavan praised the administration’s choice.

“It’s time again for an administration that looks like America — and will produce results that are good for ALL Americans,” Raghavan tweeted on December 22. “I’m honored to serve. Let’s go!”

As a senior member of Obama’s White House team, Raghavan led conversations on immigration reform, transgender rights, and marriage equality.

During his tenure in that administration, President Barrack Obama changed his stance on same-sex marriage. In 2012, the president announced his support for marriage equality, despite opposing it on the 2008 campaign trail. Two years later, he signed an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The LGBTQ Victory Institute, an advocacy group and affiliate of the LGBTQ Victory Fund working to elect out queer candidates to political office, applauded the administration’s pick.

“Gautam’s appointment demonstrates the president-elect’s long-term commitment to building an administration that is reflective of America,” Annise Parker, the organization’s president and a former three-term Houston mayor, said in a written statement. “He believes a diverse administration best serves the president and our nation and will ensure appointing qualified LGBTQ people, women, and people of color at every level of government remains a priority for the next four years.”

Since the Bill Clinton presidency, the Victory Institute’s Presidential Appointment Initiative has put forward LGBTQ candidates in hopes of diversifying the Executive Branch’s composition. The group said Raghavan is skilled in identifying the needs of the community.

“Gautam also understands our community is not monolithic and that LGBTQ people of all races, sexual orientations, and gender identities must be part of the new administration,” wrote Parker in the press release. “He is an excellent choice and our Presidential Appointments Initiative team looks forward to continue working with him.”

Raghavan was born in India and raised in Seattle and graduated from Stanford University. Currently, he lives in Washington, DC, with his husband and their daughter.

Raghavan joins several newly nominated LGBTQ officials like Pete Buttigieg to head the Transportation Department and Karine Jean-Pierre to serve as White House principal deputy press secretary that are part of Biden’s 2021 team.

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