01/28/2011 09:09 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Obama Announces Three High-Profile LGBT Appointments

The Obama White House announced Wednesday the appointment of three openly gay officials to high-profile positions, two to take on roles within the administration, and one nominated to a distinguished federal judgeship in New York.

Roberta Achtenberg, a co-founder of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton, has been selected to sit on the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

It's just the latest groundbreaking move for Achtenberg, who became the first openly LGBT American appointed by a U.S. president to a Senate-confirmable position in 1993, despite opposition from some in that chamber, such as the late Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) who once referred to her as a "damn lesbian."

Jeffrey Levi was named by Obama Thursday as a member of the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health, after earlier having pioneered AIDS prevention efforts in the 80s and later serving as Executive Director of Trust for America's Health.

Obama's final appointment came at the behest of Sen. Charles Shumer (D-N.Y.) who petitioned the president to nominate J. Paul Oetken to a position on the federal bench of the Southern District of New York. His appointment is pending Senate approval, but if confirmed, he would become the third openly gay federal judge in the country.

According to the Gay City News, Oetken served as associate counsel to President Bill Clinton at the end of his administration and before that in the Justice Department. He is currently the associate general counsel at Cablevision Systems and an adjunct professor at Fordham Law School.