July 28, 2017 at 2:56 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Dutch group criticizes nominee as U.S. ambassador to Netherlands

Former Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra (Photo public domain)

A Dutch LGBT advocacy group has expressed concern over President Trump’s nominee to become the next U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands.

Philip Tijsma of COC Nederland on Friday noted to the Washington Blade that former Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra opposes marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Hoekstra, who was born in the Dutch city of Groningen and represented Michigan’s 2nd Congressional District from 1993-2011, co-sponsored the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. The Washington Post noted he also sponsored eight other anti-LGBT bills and opposed efforts to extend adoption rights to same-sex couples.

“COC Netherlands is very concerned about the nomination of Pete Hoekstra, because of his position on marriage rights for same-sex couples and LGBTI issues in general,” Tijsma told the Blade in an email. “The position of Mr. Hoekstra on these issues goes against the Dutch policy of promoting acceptance and equal rights for LGBTI people.”

The Netherlands in 2001 became the first country in the world to extend full marriage rights to same-sex couples.

A law that allows transgender people to legally change their name and gender without undergoing sterilization or surgery took effect in 2014. King Willem-Alexander met with COC Nederland staffers and volunteers, LGBT youth, seniors and those with bicultural or religious backgrounds last November in the Hague.

Tijsma said COC Nederland has “informed” Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders of “our grave concerns and have asked him to address these with the U.S. government.”

“We don’t feel it’s very respectful to send an ambassador with these opinions to the Netherlands,” Tijsma told the Blade, referring to Hoekstra.

Tijsma spoke with the Blade two days after Trump announced a ban on trans people in the U.S. military.

Trump this week nominated Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback — another social conservative who opposes LGBT rights — to become the State Department’s ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. Reports emerged that Trump has also tapped Richard Grenell, a gay Republican who was the spokesperson for the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. from 2001-2008, to become the next U.S. amassador to Germany.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee told the Blade on Monday the White House has yet to formally nominate Grenell.
Six openly gay men served as ambassadors during the Obama administration. They represented the U.S. in the Dominican Republic, Spain and Andorra, Denmark, the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, Australia and Vietnam.

Ted Osius, who is a long-time Foreign Service officer, remains the current U.S. ambassador to Vietnam. Deputy Assistant Secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Randy Berry also remains the special U.S. envoy to promote LGBT and intersex rights.

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

  • This is not worth worrying about. The Netherlands has and supports Equality.

    Whoever is or is not the U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands will not change anything fundamental about the host country.

    Furthermore, the Netherlands has already agreed to accept the nominee as U.S. Ambassador. In other words, it’s too late to complain.

    ‘Better to prepare to welcome him, to see if he still holds such views. American society, and the world, have changed significantly since 2011.

    Maybe he has, also. Thank you.

    • That misses the point that it’s an insult to appoint a person that has consistently taken anti-LGBT positions to be ambassador to one of the most gay friendly nations on earth! If they want to protest this insult, they should have a right to raise those concerns! I find it disturbing that Trump has a position in the state department to promote religious liberty around the world while ignoring LGBT rights which the Obama administration promoted here and around the world!

      Conservatives have protested gay appointments to ambassador under the OBama administration at that so why should we be silent?

      It’s NEVER too late to complain! Trump is the Fake POTUS. Does that make it too late to complain and oppose his policies? Session is an anti-LGBT AG yet because he’s appointed we are to simply accept his positions without protest? In no way!

      Don’t know where you’ve been love, but despite American societal views changing significantly, that’s just on the surface. Like racism, there is alot you don’t see blatantly as much as before but it’s surfacing alot more with Trump in office.

      We see a huge backlash of religious conservatives influencing the Trump administration to push an anti-LGBT agenda! From Sessions saying that existing civil rights laws don’t cover GLBT Americans to the ban on Trans in the military by Trump. It’s only going to get worse and it’s really sad that you just pretend everything is wonderful and we have nothing to worry about!

      Yet you expect us to worry about something as trivial as the size of your tip! May be you should stop worrying about it as you can’t really do anything about it after the fact and simply accept what you get! Thank you!

      • Well, at least the Blade got the position title correct.

        Unlike the Detroit Free Press: “Dutch (sic) Ambassador.”

        H e l – l o !

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