March 12, 2014 | by Michael K. Lavers
Gay U.S. ambassadors meet with GLIFAA members

John Berry, Australia, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE, Dean Baer, Daniel Baer, Spain, James Costos, Denmark, Rufus Gifford, Dominican Republic, James Brewster, Wally Brewster, gay news, Washington Blade

From left; U.S. Ambassador to Australia John Berry, U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Daniel Baer, U.S. Ambassador to Spain James Costos, U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Rufus Gifford and U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic James “Wally” Brewster. (Photo by Blake Bergen, courtesy of GLIFAA)

The five gay U.S. ambassadors met with members of Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA) for the first time in D.C. on March 9.

U.S. Ambassador to Australia John Berry, U.S. Ambassador to Spain James Costos, U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Rufus Gifford, U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic James “Wally” Brewster and U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Daniel Baer met with GLIFAA members while they were in the nation’s capital for the Global Chiefs of Mission Conference at the State Department. They discussed their experiences with government officials and other diplomats as openly gay ambassadors and how they have helped to advance LGBT rights in the countries where they work.

GLIFAA President Robyn McCutcheon and others from the State Department, USAID, the Peace Corps and other organizations were among those who attended the meeting. It was also the first time that Berry, Costos, Gifford, Brewster and Baer had been in the same room together.

“GLIFAA was proud to host all five out gay U.S. ambassadors this past Sunday for very fruitful conversations on their experiences as personal champions for global LGBT+ human rights,” McCutcheon told the Washington Blade. “GLIFAA is proud to continue supporting these ambassadors, U.S. government foreign affairs agencies, and all of these agencies’ LGBT+ staff to advance equality for all around the world.”

The U.S. Senate last August confirmed Berry, who is the former head of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, alongside Baer, Gifford and Costos. The chamber approved Brewster’s nomination three months later.

Baer remains a central figure in the White House’s response to the escalating tensions between Ukraine and Russia after ousted President Viktor Yanukovych went into hiding last month following the deaths of dozens of anti-government protesters in Kiev. Baer on Wednesday met with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsya in D.C. before he left the nation’s capital to return to Vienna.

Brewster and his husband, Bob Satawake, last month met with a group of Dominican LGBT rights advocates at the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo.

Dominican President Danilo Medina approved Brewster’s nomination, but Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez of the Archdiocese of Santo Domingo and other local religious leaders vocally opposed it because he is gay. Organizers of a Jan. 22 diplomatic reception to honor Medina cancelled it after several ambassadors to the Caribbean country announced they would not attend because they did not invite Satawake.

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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