Rufus Gifford was the key person responsible for the considerable war chest that President Obama raised in the last election, a hefty $1 billion. Gifford was the former partner of White House Social Secretary Jeremy Bernard (No. 35 on Out's Power 50 List). Now it seems that he may be rewarded with an ambassadorship.
As The Washington Post's Al Kamen reports:
The longtime Democratic fundraiser and activist in the gay community would be the second openly gay ambassador named to a NATO ally. The first, James Hormel, served in the latter part of President Bill Clinton's second term as ambassador to Luxembourg.
Gifford's ex-partner Jeremy Bernard -- also a formidable fundraiser and major Democratic pol -- is the first man and the first openly gay person to be White House social secretary. Gifford and Bernard, who remain good friends, had been called one of Washington's top "power couples."
Gifford's name also appeared in a recent story in the New York Times when discussing the "well-trod" path from fundraiser to diplomat (along with his counterpart, Matthew Barzun). But at the time we were mostly interested in the fact that Anna Wintour's hopes to be amabassador to Great Britain had been dashed. Now it seems that Gifford himself may be appointed to the NATO ally.
Some may recall the bitter when President Bill Clinton named James Hormel as ambassador to Luxembourg in 1998, times were much more divisive. It's what caused Chuck Hagel to say he was "openly, aggressively gay" and would inhibit from performing his job, a comment that still plagues the would-be Secretary of Defense (although Hormel recently forgave Hagel for the insensitive gaffe).