March 28, 2016 at 9:59 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Members of Congress back gay U.S. ambassador

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. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Dozens of members of Congress have expressed their support of gay U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic James “Wally” Brewster.

U.S. Reps. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) spearheaded a letter to Dominican President Danilo Medina that describes Brewster as “our outstanding United States Ambassador to the Dominican Republic.” It also indicates their opposition to calls that President Obama remove Brewster from his post for promoting an “LGBT agenda.”

“We write to you to reaffirm that Ambassador Brewster has the strong, unambiguous support of the U.S. Congress and that we will oppose any efforts to remove him from his post,” says the letter.

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and U.S. Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.), Donna Edwards (D-Md.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and members of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus are among the lawmakers who signed the letter to Medina.

“Ambassador Brewster and his husband (Bob Satawake) are my personal friends and he is an outstanding representative to the United States and our domestic values,” said Schakowsky in a press release that the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus released on Monday. “I am proud to stand with my colleagues in sending this letter to the president of the Dominican Republic, calling on him to express support for Ambassador Brewster and reaffirm the relationship between the United States and the Dominican Republic.”

Letter: Bigotry is against ‘universal values’

Nearly 32,000 people have signed the petition that a group of Dominican evangelicals posted to the White House’s website earlier this month.

A group of Catholic bishops in the Dominican Republic have urged Medina’s government to formally complain to the U.S. about Brewster’s “conduct” that includes visiting schools and attending public events with Satawake.

A group of intellectuals and religious leaders in the predominantly Catholic country earlier this year urged Medina and the Dominican Ministry of Foreign Affairs to declare Brewster “persona non grata” because of a U.S.-backed education initiative they contend seeks “to turn our adolescents gay.” Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez of the Archdiocese of Santo Domingo has repeatedly used anti-gay slurs to describe the openly gay ambassador since Obama nominated him to represent the U.S. in the Dominican Republic in 2013.

The Vatican has yet to publicly respond to López’s comments.

“What we’re seeing is traditional tactics that people use to push people back in the closet, to push allies back from wanting to come out and support the rights of those who are marginalized,” Brewster told the Washington Blade on March 16 during an exclusive interview at the State Department. “For me, for Bob, we know we have the support of the president.”

The letter to Medina says 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,” it reads.

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

Brewster and Satawake earlier this month attended the official launch of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s latest international affiliate in the Dominican Republic. The NGLCC last week reaffirmed its support of the openly gay ambassador.

“Ambassador Brewster continues to be dedicated and loyal representative of the American people, and an essential example of the Obama administration’s commitments to diversity and inclusion at all levels of government,” said the NGLCC.

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

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