Last week, the Dominican Republic kept quiet after President Obama’s nomination of a gay U.S. ambassador triggered intense condemnation from religious groups in the country. But now the island nation tells The Cable it’s totally fine with gay ambassadors.
On Friday, religious leaders called on Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina to reject Obama’s appointment of James “Wally” Brewster as U.S. ambassador to the country. Brewster, who would be the seventh U.S. ambassador in history to be openly gay, was a fundraiser for Obama and currently works at the Chicago consulting firm SB&K.
“If he arrives, he’ll suffer and will be forced to leave,” warned Vicar Pablo Cedano, who told the AP the nomination showed “a lack of respect, of consideration, that they send us that kind of person as ambassador.” Rev. Cristobal Cardozo, leader of the Dominican Evangelical Fraternity, said the appointment was offensive. “It’s an insult to good Dominican customs,” he said. “You can expect anything from the U.S.,” added a similarly miffed Nicolas de Jesus Lopez, president of the Conference of the Dominican Episcopate.
At the time, Dominican officials declined to comment, telling the AP “It would be in bad taste for the state to comment on this nomination.” But the country’s embassy in Washington tells The Cable that Brewster has been accepted and his sexuality is no big deal.
“We can confirm that Mr. Brewster has already been accepted by the Dominican Republic as the next United States Ambassador to the country,” reads a statement from the embassy. In fact, the embassy says officials accepted the pick from the get-go even though the government previously declined to defend Brewster. “Indeed, the standard procedure is for a Government to grant the agreement for a proposed Ambassadorship before the nominating country announces its decision.”
The embassy added that it represents a tolerant government and looks forward to working with Brewster. “The Dominican Republic is a democracy with a vibrant media and a wide diversity of opinions on every conceivable topic,” the statement read. “However, it is the position of the Government of the Dominican Republic that a person´s sexual preference is strictly a personal matter and it looks forward to working constructively with Mr. Brewster in his official capacity once his nomination is approved by the US Senate.”
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |