Gay Man Stuart Delery to Be First Out White House Counsel

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Stuart Delery
Stuart Delery

Stuart Delery, a gay attorney who worked on Edie Windsor’s marriage equality case, will be the next White House counsel, the first out member of the LGBTQ+ community to hold that position, President Joe Biden announced Wednesday.

Delery will step into the post next month, when Dana Remus departs. He will also hold the title of assistant to the president. He is currently deputy counsel to the president, where he has advised on the Biden administration’s priorities including the COVID-19 response, the American Rescue Plan, and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework.

During President Barack Obama’s administration, Delery was assistant attorney general and then acting associate attorney general. The latter is the number 3 position in the U.S. Department of Justice, making Delery the highest-ranking out official in DOJ history.

On behalf of the Obama administration, Delery argued in federal court against the Defense of Marriage Act, a law that prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. Obama had decided to cease defending the law, and his administration took the position that it should be invalidated. It was challenged by Edie Windsor, a lesbian widow from New York who owed $363,000 in estate taxes that would not have been imposed on her if the U.S. government recognized her marriage. Republican members of Congress hired their own attorney to defend the law.

After the Supreme Court found in Windsor’s favor and struck down the main section of DOMA in 2013, Delery was in charge of seeing that the ruling was implemented throughout the federal government. “The administration’s sweeping interpretation and implementation of the Windsor decision has led to greatest conferral of equal rights, benefits and obligations to LGBT people in our nation’s history,” Chad Griffin, then president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a 2014 press release.

At the DOJ, Delery also oversaw defense of a variety of laws, including the Affordable Care Act, and federal agency decisions.

In 2016, Delery went into private law practice as a partner in the firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. He has been a partner in the firm of WilmerHale as well. He clerked for Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Byron White and Judge Gerald Bard Tjoflat of the Eleventh Circuit.

Originally from Louisiana, Delery is a graduate of the University of Virginia and Yale Law School. He and his husband live in Washington, D.C., and have two children.

Stuart Delery and Joe Biden and Dana Remus
Stuart Delery and Joe Biden and Dana Remus

Stuart Delery (left) with President Joe Biden and Dana Remus, who Delery will succeed as White House counsel; courtesy White House