March 9, 2016 at 6:00 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Petition urges Obama to remove gay ambassador from post

Wally Brewster, Dominican Republic, gay news, Washington Blade

U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic James “Wally” Brewster on June 19, 2015, speaks about LGBT tourism in the country during a press event in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. A petition urges the White House to remove him from his post for promoting an “LGBT agenda.” (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

A petition that has been posted to the White House website urges President Obama to remove gay U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic James “Wally” Brewster from his post.

The petition — which an anonymous person posted on Tuesday — accuses Brewster of promoting “an LGBT agenda inconsistent with the Christian cultural values and tradition of the Dominican Republic.”

It specifically criticizes Brewster and his husband, Bob Satawake, for visiting a school. The petition also notes the two men “supported” last week’s official launch of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s latest international affiliate in the Dominican Republic.

The petition says the U.S. Agency for International Development is “also supporting LGBT activities with their current budget.”

“Though we have proved to be a tolerant country, we deem this agenda disrespectful to the culture and traditions of most Dominican families,” it reads.

The petition currently has 15,949 signatures. It needs an additional 84,051 signatures by April 7 in order to prompt the White House to respond.

The State Department on Wednesday did not immediately responded to the Washington Blade’s request for comment on the petition.

U.S. officials, Dominican advocates defend gay ambassador

The petition is the latest in a series of attacks that Brewster has faced since Obama nominated him to represent the U.S. in the Dominican Republic in 2013.

Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez of the Archdiocese of Santo Domingo has repeatedly used anti-gay slurs to describe Brewster. A group of Dominican intellectuals and religious leaders in January urged President Danilo Medina and the Dominican Ministry of Foreign Affairs to declare the out U.S. ambassador as “persona non grata” because of a U.S.-backed initiative they contend seeks “to turn our adolescents gay.”

“We disagree in the strongest of terms with these characterizations of Ambassador Brewster and our foreign policy,” State Department spokesperson Pooja Jhunjhunwala told the Washington Blade in response to the letter. “Ambassador Brewster, like all U.S. ambassadors, advances this policy along with all other aspects of the U.S. relationship with the Dominican Republic.”

The White House on Thursday reiterated its support of Brewster.

“President Obama chose Ambassador Brewster to represent the United States government in the Dominican Republic because of his outstanding credentials, integrity and dedication to the advancing the interests of this country,” National Security Advisor Susan Rice told the Blade in a statement. “He has the full support of this president, this White House and the entire U.S. government and I know he will continue to advocate tirelessly for the interests of the United States in the Dominican Republic.”

“It is U.S. government policy to represent all Americans without regard to their race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, age, gender and sexual orientation,” added Rice. “Bigotry in any form is against the universal values that we promote and does not support the social inclusion that we believe is important for a free society to succeed. We will continue to support Ambassador Brewster as he advances universal human rights.”

A group of Dominican LGBT rights advocates on Wednesday posted their own petition to the White House website in support of Brewster.

The petition says that Brewster should remain in his post because he promotes an “agenda consistent with open-minded people’s values of the Dominican Republic.” It also notes the gay ambassador “involves his spouse in official activities as he should.”

“We choose love, not hate,” reads the petition. “We choose to accept, not discriminate.”

Cristian Ramírez Reyes, a Dominican LGBT rights advocate, on Wednesday criticized those who continue to oppose Brewster because of his sexual orientation.

“This is only a reflection of the homophobia that continues to exist in this country,” Ramírez told the Blade. “If this is what the ambassador of the United States is facing, you can only imagine what common GLBT people who don’t have a political agenda are up against.”

“It is really unfortunate that this has come to pass, but it is necessary in order to make the changes that are needed in our country,” added Ramírez.

Wally Brewster, Dominican Republic, gay news, Washington Blade

U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic James “Wally” Brewster, left, and his husband, Bob Satawake, at their official residence in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in June 2015. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

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

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