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Congratulations
 
Congratulations to James "Wally" Brewster, Jr.
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 11/15/13
Last updated on: 11/15/13
 
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Ambassador Brewster.

Congratulations to James "Wally" Brewster, Jr., who was confirmed as Ambassador to the Dominican Republic by the United States Senate on November 14, 2013. The unanimous vote by the Senate makes Brewster the fifth openly gay ambassador confirmed this year. The others are Daniel Baer (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe), John Berry (Australia), James Costos (Spain), and Rufus Gifford (Denmark).

Brewster was nominated to serve as Ambassador to the Dominican Republic on June 22, 2013. He is the Senior Managing Partner for SB&K Global, a brand strategy and consumer dynamics consulting firm based in Chicago. Before starting SB&K Global in 2010, he was an Officer and Senior Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Communications with General Growth Properties (GGP), a real estate investment trust headquartered in Chicago. Prior to joining GGP in 1996, he worked in management at several real estate companies in Texas.

Brewster has served as a National LGBT Co-Chair for the Democratic National Committee and currently serves on the Board of the Human Rights Campaign Fund.

The choice of Brewster as Ambassador to the Dominican Republic is especially interesting inasmuch as the country criminalizes homosexuality and constitutionally bans same-sex marriage. Brewster will be the first openly gay U.S. Ambassador in the Caribbean.

His nomination was greeted with an ugly example of homophobic hostility. In a press conference, the Dominican Republic's highest ranking Catholic official, Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez, who is currently archbishop of Santo Domingo, referred to Brewster as a "maricón"--a derogatory terms that is usually translated in the U.S. as "faggot."

Another Catholic official, Monseñor Pablo Cedano, an auxiliary bishop of Santo Domingo, issued a veiled threat against the nominee. "I hope he does not arrive in the country because I know if he comes he is going to suffer and will have to leave," Cedano said. He added that it was "a lack of respect" that Obama "sent . . . a person of this kind as an ambassador."

Evangelical Christians were equally inhospitable. Ex-president of the nation's Evangelical Confraternity, Cristobal Cardozo, called the appointment "an insult to good Dominican customs" and said it is inappropriate to send such an ambassador to "a country where homosexual relationships are not approved, neither legally nor morally."

Brewster will be accompanied to Santa Domingo by his long-term partner, Bob Satawake, with whom he lives in Chicago.

In addition to the five most recent appointees by President Obama, three other openly gay men have served as U.S. Ambassadors: James C. Hormel, who was appointed Ambassador to Luxembourg by President Bill Clinton in 1999 in a "recess appointment" after the Senate refused to act on his 1997 nomination; Michael E. Guest, who was appointed Ambassador to Romania by President George W. Bush in 2001; and David Huebner, who was appointed Ambassador to New Zealand by President Obama in 2009 and continues to serve in that capacity.

 
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