In addition to nominating an openly lesbian Filipino woman to serve as the No. 2 at the Air Force, President Biden nominated a transgender "woman" and a lesbian to serve in two other prominent positions at the Department of Defense (DoD).
On Apr. 23, President Biden announced seven nominees, including Brenda Sue Fulton for Assistant Secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs at DoD, and Shawn Skelly for Assistant Secretary for Readiness at DoD.
Skelly, a transgender "female" (biological male), served as a Naval Flight Officer for 20-plus years flying the S-3 Viking. She retired as a Commander in 2008. In 2013, President Barack Obama appointed Skelly as Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics.
Skelly also served on the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service, and on the Biden-Harris Presidential Transition Defense Agency Review Team.
Skelly founded Out in National Security, an organization of national security professionals who promote LGBTQIA+ ideas and policies.
In 2017, as one of the "Out 100," Skelly told Out magazine, “My hope, my outright quest, for both my most recent and current work is to prove without a doubt to others in our community and the public that transgender people are indeed able to serve at the highest levels of government, including the national security establishment."
Brenda Sue Fulton, an open lesbian, is a graduate of West Point and a former Army officer. She was honorably discharged as a captain. Felton then spent 25 years working in brand management for Fortune 100 companies.
Felton also was an advocate for LGBTQ+ concerns. She "helped found Knights Out and OutServe, both organizations key in the battle to repeal 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'" stated the White House. She also founded SPARTA to end the transgender ban in the military.
In 2011, President Obama appointed Fulton as the first openly gay member of the West Point Board of Visitors, said the White House.
"In 2012, Fulton and Penny Gnesin were the first same-sex couple to wed in West Point’s Cadet Chapel," stated the White House. "In 2019, after 24 years together, Penny died of breast cancer."
Fulton also worked as Chief Administrator of the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission, which employs 2,200 people and generates $1.8 billion in annual revenue.
Cathy Renna, the communications director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, praised Fulton's nomination.
In a statement to The Advocate, Renna said, “Her combination of military service, private sector experience, and government leadership, as well as her strong advocacy for women, people of color and the LGBTQ community should make us all proud and hopeful for a more equitable, diverse and effective military for those that choose to serve."