November 24, 2016 at 5:58 am EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Gay U.S. ambassador to Dominican Republic to resign on Jan. 20

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)

Gay U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic James “Wally” Brewster on Wednesday announced he will resign once President-elect Trump takes office.

“At midday on Jan 20, 2017, I will submit my resignation as U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic and Bob and I will leave in search of new adventures,” said Brewster in a statement the U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic posted to its Twitter page. “Our spirits will remain with you forever.”

Listín Diario, a Dominican newspaper, reported Brewster made the announcement during a speech he gave at a pre-Thanksgiving event that the American Chamber of Commerce of the Dominican Republic hosted.

Brewster, who is a former member of the Human Rights Campaign board of director, has faced a series of attacks since President Obama nominated him to represent the U.S. in the Dominican Republic in 2013.

Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez, the former cardinal of the Archdiocese of Santo Domingo, has repeatedly used anti-gay slurs to describe Brewster.

A group of Dominican intellectuals and religious leaders earlier this year urged President Danilo Medina and his country’s government to declare Brewster “persona non grata” because of a U.S.-backed education initiative they said sought to “turn our adolescents gay.” A member of the Dominican House of Deputies in March described those who defend Brewster as “faggot.”

Dominican religious leaders on Wednesday welcomed Brewster’s announcement.

“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 Blade in March during an exclusive interview at the State Department. “For me, for Bob, we know we have the support of the president.”

Dominican advocates with whom the Blade has spoken have said Brewster and Satawake have made their country’s LGBT rights movement more visible.

Dominican LGBT rights advocates regularly meet with Brewster and Satawake.

Dominican Republic, gay news, Washington Blade

Deivis Ventura, left, a prominent Dominican LGBT rights advocate, raises the rainbow flag over the U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic on June 4, 2016, with gay U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic James “Wally” Brewster and his husband, Bob Satawake. (Photo courtesy of Bob Satawake)

Brewster and Satawake this year took part in a Santo Domingo Pride parade. Brewster last month urged Dominican authorities to investigate the arrest of young people who were gathered in a Santo Domingo park that is popular with LGBT Dominicans.

Brewster and Satawake attended a candlelight vigil in the same park after the June 12 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

They attended a press event in Santo Domingo’s Old City in June 2015 that highlighted an LGBT tourism campaign the Center for Integrated Training Research, a Dominican advocacy group known by the Spanish acronym COIN, and ProActividad, an economic empowerment program, launched. Victor Terrero, executive director of the Dominican Republic’s National Council on HIV and AIDS, was among those who spoke alongside Brewster.

“One of the key things that I want to continue to focus on as Bob and I have is to show that we’re a loving couple and we are gay,” Brewster told the Blade during a June 2015 interview at their official residence in Santo Domingo as Satawake listened. “We are out there talking about relationships, talking about our faith and really representing the American people in a way that I think continues to promote our values.”

Brewster is among the openly gay ambassadors that Obama appointed during his administration.

It is commonplace for sitting ambassadors to resign once a new president takes office.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro told the Blade last week during an interview in Tel Aviv that he will “provide any advice or reports or assistance that I can” to Trump’s transition team. He also said he hopes the incoming administration will continue to promote LGBT rights abroad.

“That’s kind of a fundamental value that I believe in and that I believe our country has a lot to be proud of,” said Shapiro.

Trump on Wednesday announced he has nominated South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to become the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Current U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power has repeatedly spoken out in support of LGBT rights since she assumed the post in 2013.

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

  • Thank you so much to James Brewster and his husband for all that they’ve done for LGBTQ rights abroad!

  • the dominican republic has its share of gay ” fixers” In 2001 I atrtended a confernce on this business by a gay group NGTLF- a gay thiink tank

    two youth who had been fixed – t doesnt work but they said of their two “classes of 12 total, 5 comitted suicide within a year

    Ontario has banned it – canadas largest province, WA state, oregon IL, VT and NYstate has banned it and nystate also no kidding banned insurance for it

    Guess whats in the repub platform – supporing this vile and often suicidal method of tortuing people about their sexuality to the point they commit suicide

  • Rest assured that Nikki Haley will NOT be advocating for our acceptance anywhere abroad, continuing her performance as South Carolina Governor.


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