September 2, 2017 at 1:29 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
Trump names gay nominee as U.S. ambassador to Germany
Ric Grenell, Republican Party, gay news, Washington Blade

Ric Grenell (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

President Trump made one of his last acts before the Labor Day weekend nominating foreign policy expert Ric Grenell as U.S. ambassador to Germany, the first openly gay major appointment of the current administration.

The White House announced Trump had named Grenell to the post, which requires U.S. Senate confirmation, in a statement late Friday along with scores of other nominees.

The nomination was expected. Media reports in July indicated Trump would tap Grenell for the post, but Trump hadn’t formally made the designation until this time.

According to his bio, Grenell founded the international consulting firm Capitol Media Partners in 2010 and served in various roles as a public communications adviser for nearly two decades. Under the George W. Bush administration, Grenell was the longest serving U.S. spokesperson at the United Nations and served four United States Ambassadors.

For a period of less than two weeks, Grenell served during the 2012 presidential election as a foreign policy spokesperson for Republican nominee Mitt Romney, but resigned amid pressure from social conservatives over his sexual orientation. Grenell never had the opportunity to speak publicly in the role.

Grenell, who has described himself as a gay conservative Christian, has a same-sex partner, Matt Lashey. According to The Atlantic, the two have been together 15 years and Lashey himself is a conservative Christian who graduated from Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University.

At times, Grenell has supported LGBT rights, endorsing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in 2013 and supporting same-sex marriage. Grenell hailed Trump for saying he’s “fine” with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling for marriage equality, although the president’s words seemed to fall short of a full endorsement.

On the other hand, Grenell has expressed skepticism over the Student Non-Discrimination Act and former President Obama’s 2014 executive order against anti-LGBT workplace discrimination among federal contractors.

But Grenell is perhaps best known on Twitter for his combative relationship with reporters, including those from the Washington Blade. Taking a cue from Trump, who has declared war on the media, Grenell often accuses reporters of harboring biases that undermine their reporting.

Grenell is named as U.S. ambassador to Germany at a time of continued cooperation between the United States and Germany, but also tension. Merkel has criticized Trump for his approach to climate change and North Korea. Trump, in turn, has called on Germany, which spends 1.2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense, to double its expenditures in this area.

Gregory Angelo, president of Log Cabin Republicans, hailed the news Grenell was confirmed nomination as U.S. envoy to Germany.

“It’s exciting to see Mr. Grenell nominated to such an important post at such an important time,” Angelo said. “As a member of our Los Angeles Chapter, working to ensure his confirmation will be a priority of Log Cabin Republicans in the weeks ahead.”

Grenell earned his bachelor’s degree from Evangel University in Springfield, Mo., and his master’s in public affairs at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Aisha Moodie-Mills, CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute, said although her organization normally favors LGBT appointments, she has strong reservations about Grenell.

“LGBTQ presidential appointees can be critical difference-makers when they hold a broad vision of equality and are empowered to enact it,” Moodie-Mills said. “Unfortunately, past statements by Richard Grenell make clear he is not supportive of the entire LGBTQ community – including LGBTQ Muslims, immigrants and people of color. His praise for President Trump as a ‘historic’ pro-LGBTQ president is completely delegitimized by Trump’s appointment of an almost entirely anti-LGBTQ cabinet, as well as his actions attacking trans students and military members.

Nonetheless, Moodie-Mills said Grenell has a real opportunity to make change upon his confirmation as U.S. ambassador to Germany.

“The LGBTQ community is watching Grenell as he takes his post in Germany,” Moodie-Mills said. As Trump’s first openly LGBTQ appointee, he has an opportunity to influence the administration and play a meaningful role in a country that just passed marriage equality. But his blind loyalty to Trump and his hateful policies give us little hope. Only Grenell can decide whether to stand up for equality, or continue his delusions about Trump’s intentions for our community.”

Grenell wasn’t the only openly gay appointment Trump made on Friday. Trump also nominated James Abbott to membership of the Federal Labor Relations Authority for a five-year term expiring July 1, 2020. A member of D.C. Log Cabin, Abbott currently serves as counsel to the Federal Labor Relations Authority

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • lnm3921

    Another useless token who thinks he’s proving something by saying he’s gay, conservative and christian! Just tow the line and be used to promote an agenda that is anti-LGBT!

    He accuses the media of having biases? Does he include conservative news sources like Fox in that? Just because you refuse to confront or respond to a question you don’t like does not make it bias!

    Yet we should accept everything the Fake POTUS tells us as fact and the “real” truth even though he’s often found to be wrong, and been caught lying and exaggerating repeatedly and flip flops constantly! The media, the polls and anyone who challenges the Fake POTUS has to be fake, right? We can think for ourselves we don’t need Trump’s spin on things!

    • customartist

      Well said

  • Brian’s Ions

    Actually, there may be a higher percentage of LGBs at LU than whatever the ‘average’ campus has. Many parents send their gay kids to Liberty in hopes of praying the gay away.
    ———-
    \Grenell, who has described himself as a gay conservative Christian, has a same-sex partner, Matt Lashey. According to The Atlantic, the two have been together 15 years and Lashey himself is a conservative Christian who graduated from Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University.//

    • customartist

      Allowing one’s self to be brainwashed is akin to allowing one’s self to be raped. One either has Personal Integrity, or one does not.

      • Brian’s Ions

        That’s utter nonsense and outright bigotry.

        Most students at LU are as diverse in their thinking as students at Georgetown or CUA. There are lots of openly gay kids on that campus, and nobody cares.

        And having a different point of view than your own has nothing to do with personal integrity or rape.

        Rape??? Seriously? Go talk to someone who has been violently raped — with the threat of a knife at their throat, or a gun to their head. Did they lose your brand of ‘personal integrity’ by not resisting?

        • customartist

          It’s not about a point of view. It’s about supporting institutions which in turn support, and I mean financially, LGBT-demeaning legislation

        • lnm3921

          You live in a dream world. You never thought we’d be where we are today when Obama was in office and I told you then we could take nothing for granted! The GOP still has a platform against gay marriage and promoting gay rights!

          This will all get More ugly with the promotion of religious freedom laws and if we lose a pending scotus case will open the flood gates to more discrimination!

          Many of us longtime activists rightfully have scorn for conservative gays as they are doormats to our enemies and simply ignore the fact that they put more enemies in power to push their warped right-wing agenaa! You’re so naive!

          Tokens are tokens and are as good as nothing in office if they don’t fight for our rights over their parrry agenda!

          Besides that I disagree whole heartedly with the selfish agenda of the tea party and stupid libertarian ideals!

  • customartist

    There is one very important dynamic here to remember:

    Tokens do not Legislation make.

    Republicans seek to confuse voters with shiny objects while they will never pass LGBT protections into law. In fact, they do the exact opposite.

    No self-respecting LGBT individual would ever serve on this Administration, or align with the Republican Party.

    If one does not have one’s Basic Civil Rights, then nothing else can possibly merit committing one’s energies toward,…IF one has their priorities in order that is.

    I refuse to be Republicans’ doormat.

    • Brian’s Ions

      Well, Bully for you!

      I’m glad all those nasty LGBT Republicans aren’t walking all over you. I wouldn’t want you to get confused.

      Those dumb-ass voters that are happy a gay man has been nominated to be ambassador to one of America’s most important allies must be confused beyond all reason, huh?

      As for priorities… Mr. Jefferson’s “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” still works for most of us.

      • customartist

        It’s not working when LGBT folks may be fired, evicted, and not served at Woolworth’s lunch counter because of the owners “sincerely held religious beliefs”.

        • Brian’s Ions

          Sure. I get that. But we want LGBTs appointed to all kinds of government jobs– and by both parties– irrespective of what prejudice is manifesting itself in other parts of an administration.

          I want Trump impeached and removed, too. Tomorrow would not be too soon… but for Pence. Imagine the sudden GOP goodwill Pence could exploit as a new ‘unifying’ president.

          And then imagine all the LGBT progress a President Pence could roll back with a GOP congress that can not change before January, 2019.

          As with Nixon, when and if the time comes, it will be disgusted Republicans who will throw in with Dems to vote articles of impeachment. We’ll be glad when they turn our way.

          In the meantime, a conservative gay man serving as ambassador to Germany will start to change, at some level, conservative hearts and minds against ingrained homophobia/ transphobia.

          There’s a lot that is good about that.

          • customartist

            Supporting the opposition is WRONG

          • Brian’s Ions

            Every shade of our rainbow counts, Artist. And every advancement counts for something good and noble in our history.

          • lnm3921

            Conservatives have hearts and minds? Many only care about power and pushing their harmful agenda at any cost!

            Many are afraid they will lose their seats because trump is popular with their constituents and going against him could cost them. Trump has threatened to do as much. Jeff flake, not a friend of the LGBT community has criticized trump and now trump wants to spend $10 million of his own money to unseat him!

  • Helen Damnation™

    Good lord what sick bastards, him and his husband, Matt Lashey. “According to The Atlantic, the two have been together 15 years and Lashey himself is a
    conservative Christian who graduated from Jerry Falwell’s Liberty
    University.”
    Some supporters of Falwell want gay people dead; these dudes are nuts.

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