Clinton Chooses Lesbian Former Nun as Assistant to Handle Management

Article excerpt

President Clinton, who recently pledged to name five homosexuals to top White House posts, started to do so yesterday by choosing a former Catholic nun to run the White House management shop.

Virginia M. Apuzzo, 56, a lesbian activist, became one of just 18 "assistants to the presidents," taking over the management and administration operation once headed by Clinton friend David Watkins. Mr. Watkins was fired after flying a Marine helicopter to a Maryland golf course.

In her new job, she is in charge of White House operations, not policy.

Miss Apuzzo brings with her a long resume of Democratic and AIDS activism and becomes the highest-level open homosexual in a U.S. administration.

"It's historic. She proves that you can be an activist and professional," said Kerry Lobel, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, a group Miss Apuzzo once headed.

"I see this as a beginning," Miss Lobel added. "There are certain expectations that this president will bring more gay, lesbian, transgenders into the administration. We intend to hold him to it."

During a recent meeting with key homosexual lobbying groups, Mr. Clinton promised to set aside five senior-level positions for homosexuals.

"We look forward to more appointments and nominations of openly gay people in Clinton's second term," added Elizabeth Birch, executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest homosexual lobby.

The appointment followed years of waiting by the homosexual community, which soured on the president during the 1996 elections because he was slow to name activists to top positions or to initiate bold programs to fight AIDS. …