November 15, 2013 at 12:58 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Senate confirms gay ambassador nominee to Dominican Republic

James "Wally" Brewster, gay, Dominican Republic, Washington Blade

The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved James “Wally” Brewster as the next U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic (Photo by Martin Le Roy; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The U.S. Senate on Thursday unanimously confirmed James “Wally” Brewster as the country’s next ambassador to the Dominican Republic.

Lawmakers confirmed Brewster nearly five months after President Obama tapped the Human Rights Campaign board member to represent the U.S. in the Caribbean nation. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month approved Brewster’s nomination.

Dominican religious leaders and other officials opposed Brewster’s nomination because he is gay.

Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez of the Archdiocese of Santo Domingo in June referred to Brewster as “maricón” or “faggot” in Spanish during a press conference in the Dominican capital. Rev. Cristóbal Cardozo of the Dominican Evangelical Fraternity also spoke out against the HRC board member’s nomination.

“We are not questioning the exercise of faith; the exercise of faith is a necessity and a human rights,” Leonardo Sánchez, director of Amigos Siempre Amigos, a Santo Domingo-based gay advocacy group, told the Dominican newspaper 7 Días in response to López’s comments. “What we are questioning are the attitudes of those who use their faith to incite violence.”

Published reports indicate Dominican President Danilo Medina approved Brewster’s nomination before the White House announced it.

The U.S. Senate in August confirmed former U.S. Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry as ambassador to Australia. The chamber also approved the nominations of three other gay men – Rufus Gifford, James Costos and Daniel Baer – as ambassadors to Denmark, Spain and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe respectively.

“All Americans should be proud to have these fine public servants representing the interests of the United States,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement.

Anthony Montgomery, a gay blogger who lives in Santo Domingo, told the Washington Blade he expects LGBT Dominicans will welcome Brewster as the next American ambassador to their country.

“Honestly, the only people against it was the church,” Montgomery said. “I know the gay community is very excited.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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