Gay U.S. Ambassador Faces Backlash in Dominican Republic

The welcome message from America's new top diplomat in the Dominican Republic touched on baseball, culture and trade ties. No surprises there.

But U.S. Ambassador James "Wally" Brewster brought one thing with him this week that's a first for a male U.S. ambassador in the Caribbean nation: a husband.

"My spouse, Bob, and I have traveled the world, from the far reaches of Asia to the stunning coastlines of southern Europe," Brewster says in a video introducing himself on the U.S. Embassy's website.

After months of pressure from religious groups in the Dominican Republic who protested his appointment, Brewster arrived in Santo Domingo this week to begin his tenure as ambassador.

U.S. President Barack Obama praised Brewster's "knowledge and dedication" when he announced his appointment to the post in June.

The Dominican Republic's government quickly said it accepted Brewster's selection.

But some have been less welcoming.

High-profile Catholic Church leaders have decried the new diplomatic appointment as a sign of a lack of respect from Obama.

"He has not considered the particularities of our people. The United States is trying to impose on us marriage between gays and lesbians as well as adoption by these couples," said Father Luis Rosario, director of youth ministries for the church.

Local media reported that an evangelical church called for "black Monday" protests, asking people to show their opposition to Brewster by tying black ribbons on their cars, according to local media reports.

Others, including gay rights groups, have praised Brewster's appointment.

An editorial in the Dominican Republic's El Nacional newspaper this week discussed proposals Brewster outlined in the introductory video and urged readers to stop focusing so much on the new ambassador's sexual orientation, even though it has "generated more attention than his diplomatic mission."

His arrival in the Dominican Republic this week was front-page news in many of the country's newspapers, which also prominently discussed the arrival of his spouse.

A major fundraiser for Obama's 2012 campaign who most recently worked as a senior managing partner of SB&K Global, Brewster has also served on the national board of directors for the Human Rights Campaign, a prominent gay rights group.

In a blog post this month, the group described Brewster as the fifth openly gay U.S. ambassador.

From our media partner CNNCNN


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