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July 20: Roberta Achtenberg, the First Openly Gay Federal Appointee

July 19, 2015
2435-roberta-achtenberg_biographyRoberta Achtenberg, commissioner of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and the first openly gay federal appointee approved by the U.S. Senate (in January 2011), was born on this date in 1950. Achtenberg served for more than fifteen years as a civil rights attorney and was co-founder of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. She was elected as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1990 and was appointed three years later as Bill Clinton’s assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Achtenberg also became chair of the board of trustees of the California State University system in 2006. “In the litany of names I was called, they always included the word ‘Jew’: ‘Communist Jew,’ ‘queer Jew,’ ‘Jew bitch’ — they never left ‘Jew’ out.” —Roberta Achtenberg