NPR logo Obama Names First Male And Openly Gay Social Secretary

Obama Names First Male And Openly Gay Social Secretary

President Obama named the first male and the first openly gay White House social secretary Friday's announcement that Jeremy Bernard was named to the post.

Bernard, a San Antonio native, presently serves as a senior advisor to the U.S. ambassador to France, Charles Rivkin.

An excerpt from a White House news release with statements from the president and Bernard:

"Jeremy shares our vision for the White House as the People's House, one that celebrates our history and culture in dynamic and inclusive ways. We look forward to Jeremy continuing to showcase America's arts and culture to our nation and the world through the many events at the White House," the President said.

"I am deeply humbled to join the White House staff as Social Secretary and support President Obama and the First Lady in this role," said Jeremy Bernard. "I have long admired the arts and education programs that have become hallmarks of the Obama White House and I am eager to continue these efforts in the years ahead."

Bernard was an Obama fundraiser for the 2008 presidential campaign. Active in the gay rights movement, he was also a Democratic National Committee member from 2001 to 2009.

In the private sector, he was a government affairs official for a cable company and a venture capital company.

The social secretary's job isn't typically isn't controversial but it became so early in the Obama Administration.

The judgment of Obama's first social secretary, Desiree Rogers, was widely questioned after a publicity-seeking Washington couple crashed the Obama White House's first state dinner and was able to get handshakes from Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

While previous White House social secretaries typically posted someone from their office with lists of official guests to prevent such incidents, Rogers didn't.

Even before that November 2009 incident, there were questions about her having too high a profile and a glamorous style out of synch with a nation in the midst of a recession.

Rogers, the first African American social secretary, was replaced by Julianna Smoot who is leaving the White House to become a deputy campaign manager in Obama's re-election effort.