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Congratulations
 
More Congratulations to Ambassador Wally Brewster
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 11/29/13
Last updated on: 11/29/13
 
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Ambassador James "Wally" Brewster.

On November 22, 2013, James "Wally" Brewster was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic by Vice President Joe Biden. Just a few hours later, Brewster married his long time partner, Bob J. Satawake. The ceremony and reception took place at the Hay-Adams Hotel, overlooking the South Lawn of the White House. Ambassador Brewster and his husband have now taken up residence in Santo Domingo. The couple deserves congratulations not only on their wedding but also for their openness, as demonstrated in a video introducing the new Ambassador and his husband to the people of the Dominican Republic.

As I pointed out in a blog on November 15, congratulating Brewster on his confirmation as Ambassador by the U.S. Senate, his nomination to represent the United States as Ambassador to the Dominican Republic is especially interesting inasmuch as the country criminalizes homosexuality and constitutionally bans same-sex marriage.

Moreover, his nomination was greeted with hostility and unvarnished homophobia. 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."

However, these homophobic comments have not deterred Brewster. In a video posted on November 26, 2013 on the U.S. Embassy website, Ambassador Brewster not only introduces himself to the people of the Dominican Republic, but he also introduces his husband.

"My spouse, Bob, and I have traveled the world, from the far reaches of Asia to the stunning coastlines of southern Europe," Brewster says. Then Satawake adds, "But we always return to the beauty of the Dominican Republic."

In the video, Ambassador Brewster also pointedly notes, "My parents taught me that all people deserve respect, dignity, love and opportunity. They also instilled in me a strong belief in God, and the values of love and tolerance. Bob and I bring those beliefs and values with us as we come to the Dominican Republic. We are both thrilled to be coming back to our second home."

Congratulations to the couple on their marriage and on their openness.

Brewster is 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).

In addition to these five 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.

Below is Ambassador Brewster's introductory video.

 
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