February 12, 2014 | by Michael K. Lavers
Gay U.S. ambassador meets with Dominican LGBT advocates

Domincan Republic, Republica Dominicana, gay news, Washington Blade

U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic James “Wally” Brewster on Tuesday met with Dominican LGBT rights advocates.

Gay U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic James “Wally” Brewster and his husband on Tuesday met with a group of Dominican LGBT rights advocates.

Amigos Siempre Amigos Director Leonardo Sánchez, Harol Jiménez of the Amigos Siempre Amigos Volunteer Network, Cristian King of Trans Siempre Amigas (TRANSSA), Rev. Wilkin Lara of the Metropolitan Community Church of Santo Domingo, Marianela Carvajal, Rosanddi Arias, Nairobi Castillo and Francis Taylor attended the meeting that took place at the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo, the country’s capital and largest city.

“It was a pleasure for us to meet and share with these leaders that are working to make the world more tolerant and that we all can enjoy the same rights,” said Brewster in Spanish on his Instagram page after he his husband, Bob Satawake, met with the advocates.

Deivis Ventura of the Amigos Siempre Amigos Volunteer Network, who is in the U.S. on a State Department-sponsored trip, told the Washington Blade from Los Angeles members of his group and other advocacy organizations talked about the lack of health information and access to adequate services for LGBT Dominicans. Ventura said the activists also talked about education and employment.

“We were able to exchange ideas and possible solutions to the situation of the LGBT community, based on the need to respect human rights,” he said.

King described the meeting to the Blade as “very positive.”

“We felt the ambassador and his husband’s support as well as their concern over the actual situation of socially marginalized groups in the country,” he said.

The meeting took place nearly three months after the U.S. Senate confirmed Brewster, who is a member of the Human Rights Campaign Board of Directors, to represent the United States in the Caribbean nation.

Brewster, who did not return the Blade’s request for comment, introduced his husband to the Dominican people in a video he made shortly after he became ambassador. The two men also gave an exclusive interview to Ritmo Social, a Dominican society magazine last month as Blabbeando, an Latino LGBT blog, reported.

Dominican President Danilo Medina approved Brewster’s nomination, but religious leaders and others opposed it because he is gay.

Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez of the Archdiocese of Santo Domingo last June referred to Brewster as a “maricón” or “faggot” in Spanish. López last month urged parishioners to show respect for the openly gay ambassador.

Rev. Luís Rosario of the Santo Domingo Youth Ministry said during a Feb. 6 press conference he feels the openly gay ambassador is a “bad example” for Dominican society and families.

“For many years, we have been well received in the Dominican Republic and since my arrival as ambassador this has not changed,” Brewster told Ritmo Social in response to a question about those in the predominantly Roman Catholic country who opposed his nomination. “I was chosen by President Obama to represent his government and the American people as a reflection of our country, its diversity and its mission. I am committed to serving this ideal. President Obama was aware of our understanding of the Dominican Republic and knew that we were going to work diligently to advance the extraordinary relationship between our two countries and people.”

King told the Blade that Brewster and Satawake thanked him and the other Dominican LGBT rights advocates with whom they met for “all the support they provided in their defense” during what he described as a “campaign of hate and rejection against those who are a gay couple” from religious leaders.

“We defended him in that moment, confirming with them that discrimination exists in our country against our community,” said King.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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