Yesterday, Barack Obama proclaimed "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, And Transgender Pride Month 2009." Other than that, he has not really done much of anything, at all, for the gays, in his first couple months. Will his new Army Secretary help with that?
No one has any idea! Obama retained Gates as Defense Secretary, which is bad news for the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, and the president has also thus far been completely unwilling to stop discharging gay servicemen and women, which he could do with one simple executive order. So the news that his new Secretary of the Army is John McHugh, a Republican congressman, is initially disheartening.
One of the problems with appointing token Republicans to semi-important positions in the name of "bipartisanship" is that some of us, when voting for Democrats, wish to then be governed be Democrats. And even a token Republican can cause quite a headache for a Democratic president, because of the fundamentally incompatible ideologies of the major parties. I.e., Republicans believe that Government is Bad and Evil except when it directly, monetarily benefits their friends, and Democrats have a definition of "friends" that includes poor people and minorities. (But not, really, gay people.)
So yes, this upstate Republican, who is the head of the House Armed Services Committee and who represents a district including Fort Drum, is pretty well-respected. The National Security guy from the liberal Center for American Progress says "McHugh has the skills to be a very effective secretary of the Army." But if it turns out that the dude does not support letting gay people serve in the military, a lot of Obama supporters are going to wonder why the President couldn't find a single qualified man or woman for the post who does.
And if McHugh, as he said in response to question from Ana Marie Cox, actually does "agree that DADT policy doesn't work and changing it is a priority," and it turns out he just needed to be freed from the Congressional GOP to come out with it, than we'll all say "kudos, brilliant pick, nice job." But that is a big if!