Gina Ortiz Jones & Shawn Skelly Confirmed by U.S. Senate; Both Make LGBTQ History

Jones is the first out lesbian to serve as under secretary of a military branch;

Skelly is highest-ranking out trans defense official in U.S. history 


Washington, DC – The United States Senate today confirmed two historic LGBTQ presidential nominees by unanimous consent. Gina Ortiz Jones, confirmed for Under Secretary of the Air Force, will be the first out lesbian to serve as under secretary of a military branch. Shawn Skelly, confirmed as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness, will be the highest-ranking out transgender defense official in U.S. history.

Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute, said the following about the confirmations:

“Gina and Shawn served their country when living openly could result in discharge and a lost career, so their ascension to key leadership positions is a powerful moment for those servicemembers who served or continue to serve in silence. Their confirmation will transform perceptions of LGBTQ people within the ranks of the U.S. military, but also among the leaders of militaries we work with around the world. While they were confirmed because of their unquestionable qualifications and experience, they symbolize our continued progress and will further disrupt any lingering notion that LGBTQ people are somehow unfit to serve.”

Jones is an Air Force and Iraq War veteran and former candidate for U.S. Congress. She was an intelligence analyst for U.S. Africa Command and a senior strategic planner and then special advisor to the Deputy Director for the Defense Intelligence Agency. Skelly is a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Navy and retired with the rank of Commander. She was Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics at the U.S. Department of Defense and a commissioner to the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service.

Jones and Skelly are two of more than 200 LGBTQ political appointees to the administration of President Joe Biden – including at least 12 currently serving in the Department of Defense. Also nominated and awaiting a confirmation hearing is Sue Fulton, a retired U.S. Army Captain, who is nominated to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.

Victory Institute’s Presidential Appointments Initiative works with the administration to recommend and advocate for qualified LGBTQ leaders ready to serve in the administration – including Jones and Skelly. Victory Institute aims to help the Biden administration become the most LGBTQ-inclusive in U.S. history.

Ruben Gonzales, Executive Director of LGBTQ Victory Institute, said the following:

“The Biden team is building the most LGBTQ-inclusive administration in U.S. history and the impact it will have on policies and legislation is enormous. Gina and Shawn will join at least a dozen other out Defense Department appointees who understand the challenges LGBTQ servicemembers face and will make their well-being a priority. Our military, like our government, is strongest when it reflects the diversity of the people it serves and ensures all are treated with dignity and respect. Gina and Shawn are shattering lavender ceilings that will encourage more LGBTQ people to consider public service.”

In 2013, Eric Fanning became the first out LGBTQ person to ever serve as under secretary of a military branch when he was confirmed as Under Secretary of the Air Force. Fanning again made history in 2016 when he was confirmed as Secretary of the Army.

About Victory Institute

LGBTQ Victory Institute works to achieve and sustain global equality through leadership development, training, and convening to increase the number, expand the diversity, and ensure the success of openly LGBTQ elected and appointed officials at all levels of government.

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