New White House social secretary is first man and first openly gay person to fill role

Jeremy Bernard, right, shown with partner Rufus Gifford, is the first man and the first openly gay person named social secretary.

LINDA DAVIDSON | Washington Post (2009)

Jeremy Bernard, right, shown with partner Rufus Gifford, is the first man and the first openly gay person named social secretary.

The White House made history in two ways Friday when it announced that Jeremy Bernard will be its new social secretary — the first man and the first openly gay person to fill that role.

Bernard, who is currently the senior adviser to the ambassador at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, will replace Julianna Smoot, the White House announced.

"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," President Barack Obama said in a statement.

Bernard previously worked as the White House liaison to the National Endowment for the Humanities and was also a member of the Democratic National Committee.

He is the administration's third social secretary. Desiree Rogers, who left the post early last year, was the first African-American social secretary. Smoot will move to a role on Obama's re-election campaign.

"I am deeply humbled to join the White House staff as social secretary and support President Obama and the first lady in this role," Bernard said in a statement. "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, who has been active in gay rights organizations, was a prominent fundraiser for the Obama presidential campaign in California.

A native of Texas, Bernard worked in the financial industry in California, serving as a consultant to Obama's presidential campaign in 2008.

While in Los Angeles, he served on gay rights advisory committees for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office, the Los Angeles Police Department and the mayor's office, as well as working on behalf of Access Now for Gay and Lesbian Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian victory fund.

Information from McClatchy Newspapers was used in this report.

New White House social secretary is first man and first openly gay person to fill role 02/25/11 [Last modified: Friday, February 25, 2011 9:08pm]

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