The country’s cardinal refers to Obama’s pick to lead the U.S. embassy in the Dominican Republic a “maricón,” which is usually translated as “faggot,” while others urged the country’s president to reject the appointment. Brewster is one of five out gay nominees for ambassadorships named in June.
By J. Lester Feder
When President Barack Obama nominated a gay man as the new ambassador to the Dominican Republic on June 21, he touched off a firestorm of debate in the Caribbean nation — which has devolved even to derogatory name-calling.
Catholic Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez referred to Brewster as a “maricón” — which is usually translated as “faggot” — during a press conference. At his side, Monseñor Pablo Cedano promised the nominee such an unpleasant stay in the country that he will have to return home.
“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 called it “a lack of respect” that Obama “sent … a person of this kind as an ambassador,” adding, “[W]e don’t despise the person.”
The dust-up over the nomination shows the direct impact that full equality for gays and lesbians in the United States can have abroad. The nominee, James “Wally” Brewster, was a major Obama fundraiser and a national LGBT co-chair for the Democratic National Committee. His nomination, which still must be confirmed by the Senate, is the latest in a flurry of appointments of gay Americans for ambassadorships by the Obama administration. Five others were named just in the last month. Only three openly gay ambassadors have served before them.
While these nominations have raised few eyebrows in the other countries where they will be working — like Spain, Denmark, or Australia — Brewster’s appointment has caused a great deal of concern in the Dominican Republic. Conservative religious leaders and other opponents of LGBT rights have called on Dominican President Danilo Medina to refuse to accept him if he is confirmed.
LGBT activists said the Catholic leaders’ remarks incited violence.
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