November 18, 2014 at 5:43 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
Gay diplomat confirmed as U.S. ambassador to Vietnam

 

Ted Osius, gay news, Washington Blade

Ted Osius, on left, was confirmed as U.S. ambassador to Vietnam. (Photo by U.S. Embassy in Jakarta; courtesy Flickr

The U.S. Senate confirmed on Monday an openly gay Foreign Service officer to become U.S. ambassador to Vietnam.

Ted Osius, who was nominated by President Obama for the position in May, was confirmed by voice vote as part of a group of four ambassadorial nominees.

According to his bio, Osius is a career member of the Foreign Service and in recent years has served as an associate professor at the National War College and a senior fellow at the think tank known as the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

Prior to that, Osius served in Asia for most of his 25 years in foreign service, working at U.S. embassies in Indonesia, Thailand, Vatican City, the Philippines and New Delhi, India. Additionally, he’s served as deputy director of the Office of Korean Affairs in the State Department’s Bureau of East Asian & Pacific Affairs.

Although Osius’ confirmation wasn’t contentious on the Senate floor, he was reportedly among 25 nominees Senate Republicans blocked in August in response to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) changing the rules to ease confirmation of presidential appointees.

Forty years after the U.S. conflict in Vietnam ended, Osius said during his confirmation hearing he would work to expand cooperation with the country “in areas such as security, nonproliferation, and law enforcement.”

A Maryland native, Osius received his undergraduate degree from Harvard College and an M.S. from the School of Advanced International Studies at The Johns Hopkins University.

Selim Ariturk, president of the State Department’s LGBT employee affinity group GLIFAA, said the Osius confirmation is a source of pride for the entire LGBT community.

“Ambassador Osius was a leader in GLIFAA long before it was easy to be out in the Foreign Service, and his appointment is an inspiration to all of us,” Ariturk said. “Given his deep knowledge of Vietnam and his excellent diplomatic skills, he will be an ambassador that all Americans will be proud of.”

Osius is the seventh openly gay person nominated by Obama to serve as a U.S. ambassador. Others have been former U.S. ambassador to New Zealand David Huebner; U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe; 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.

Michael Guest, who’s gay and a Bush-appointed former U.S. ambassador to Romania, was also confirmed after serving as a Foreign Service officer and predicted Osius would facilitate U.S. foreign policy in the entire region.

“A second openly gay, career Foreign Service ambassador is well overdue,” Guest said. “Ted’s assignment and confirmation reaffirms our country’s changing attitudes on sexual orientation and gender identity. It also stands to reinforce Vietnam’s understanding of LGBT inclusion as part of the democratic values that Vietnam is embracing – something bound to echo positively across Southeast Asia.”

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

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