When President-Elect Barack Obama said he would "change" Washington, he wasn't joking. Via Gay Politics and the Victory Fund is news that Mary Beth Maxwell, the founding executive director of American Rights at Work, is a top choice as Obama’s choice as Secretary of Labor. Maxwell would be the nation's first openly gay cabinet secretary.
The Wall Street Journal broke the news last night:
For the rainbow cabinet of the nation's first African American president, Mary Beth Maxwell is the perfect labor secretary you've probably never heard of: a gay woman, community organizer and labor leader with an adopted African American son. And this founding executive director of American Rights at Work is about to get the full-court press.
Maxwell already had the strong backing of former Rep. David Bonior, who despite repeated attempts to get his name removed from consideration continues to be on the short list of potential labor secretaries. Bonior, 63 years old, says it is time for his generation to turn over power to a new generation, and Maxwell, whose labor-backed organization pushes for expanded collective bargaining rights, is his pick.
Marc Ambinder reports Maxwell is being veted along with Govs. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan and Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas. Sebelius was an early and prominent Obama supporter and obviously has the inside track.
Aside from the obvious symbolism of having an openly gay cabinet secretary, Maxwell is supremely qualified and is a true progressive. (Read her posts at The Huffington Post.) After the decimation of OSHA, overtime mandates and collective bargaining by "Labor" Secretary Elaine Chao and the Bush Administration, it's about time a union or labor activist was running Labor.