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Obama chooses gay ambassadors for Australia and the Dominican Republic

The US president has nominated a total of eight openly gay men to be American ambassadors to foreign countries
US President Barack Obama has nominated two openly gay man as ambassadors to Australia and the Dominican Republic.

President Barack Obama has nominated two more out gay men as foreign US ambassadors.

In recent weeks Obama has nominated a total of eight openly gay men for ambassadorial posts.

His most recent nominations include John Berry as ambassador to Australia, a country that two days ago rejected recognizing foreign same-sex marriages. Obama has also nominated James ‘Wally’ Brewster as ambassador to the Dominican Republic, a country whose constitution bans same-sex unions. 

Chad Griffin, president of LGBT rights organization Human Rights Campaign (HRC) expressed his support for the nominees in a statement: ‘John Berry has been a devoted public servant for thirty years, and will bring tremendous experience to our embassy in Canberra. I urge the Senate to confirm his nomination.’

Berry has previously held posts in the Smithsonian Institution, the US Treasury Department and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. As Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget at the US Department of the Interior, Barry was instrumental in creating a complaint procedure for employees who encounter discrimination based on their sexual orientation.

Griffin also said: ‘Wally Brewster is an excellent choice to be our nation’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic. His global business and management expertise is matched by his enthusiasm and commitment to human rights and democracy around the world. Wally’s political intelligence and work in public affairs and communications would make him a valuable contribution to our nation’s diplomatic efforts.’

Wally Brewster, a co-chair for the Democratic National Committee, is also on the board of the HRC and has been an active fundraiser and LGBT rights activist throughout his career.

These appointments follow the president’s decision just one week ago to nominate two other openly gay men as ambassadors: former TV executive James Costos to Spain, and former finance officer for the Democratic National Committee Rufus Gifford to Denmark.

The year since Obama announced his support for marriage equality in May 2012 has seen significant changes to LGBT rights in the US, though the Supreme Court has yet to reach a decision on what can be seen as the biggest hurdle for LGBT rights: the federal ban on gay marriage through the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA).

During the Obama administration, the army’s anti-gay policy Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) has been overturned, and 12 states have legalized same-sex marriage.

Earlier this week, on his first official visit to Berlin as US president, Obama spoke for gay rights in a country whose Chancellor, Angela Merkel, opposes marriage equality.

Obama said in a speech: ‘When we stand up for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters...we defend our own liberty as well.’

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