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.