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Officially In: James “Wally” Brewster, Jr. to the Dominican Republic, an Island of Grace and Tolerance

 By Domani Spero

On June 21, President Obama announced his intent to nominate James “Wally” Brewster, Jr., as the next Ambassador to the Dominican Republic. The WH released the following brief bio:

James “Wally” Brewster, Jr. is the Senior Managing Partner for SB&K Global, a brand strategy and consumer dynamics consulting firm based in Chicago, Illinois.  Before starting SB&K Global in 2010, he was an Officer and Senior Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Communications with General Growth Properties (GGP), a real estate investment trust headquartered in Chicago.  Prior to joining GGP in 1996, Mr. Brewster worked in management at several real estate companies in Texas, including The Rouse Company and the DeBartolo Corporation.  Earlier in his career, he held marketing and management positions with Carla Francis, Inc. and the Jim Collins Company in Dallas, Texas.

Mr. Brewster is a National LGBT Co-Chair for the Democratic National Committee and currently serves on the Board of the Human Rights Campaign Fund.

According to Open Secrets of the Center for Responsive Politics, Mr. Brewster bundled $500,000+ for the Obama 2012 reelection.

www.barackobama.com also listed Mr. Brewster and Bob Satawake  as Obama For America and Obama Victory Fund 2012 Volunteer Fundraisers who  raised $100,000-$200,000.

Six out of 16 total ambassadorial appointments to Santo Domingo since 1960 or 37.5% went to non-career appointees.  If confirmed, Mr. Brewster would replace another political appointee Raul Yzaguirre who was appointed chief of mission to the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo in November 2010.  Ambassador Yzaguirre’s May 6, 2013 announcement of departure says that he is leaving for “health reasons” and that  he and his wife will return to their home in the city of Mt. Airy, Maryland.

In late June, the AP reported that religious groups in the Dominican Republic said they are outraged by the nomination of a gay U.S. ambassador to the conservative Caribbean country.  CNS quotes DR Bishop Pablo Cedano saying that if Brewster becomes the U.S. ambassador, “he is going to suffer and will have to leave.”  DR Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez is on YouTube calling the nominee  maricón, a derogatory term.

This past Monday, there was a “Black Monday” protest organized by religious leaders to demonstrate their disapproval of the openly gay nominee.

Here is an excerpt from the 2012 Human Rights Report on DR:

Treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals ranged from ambivalent tolerance to staunch homophobia.  No specific law protects individuals against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and NGOs reported widespread social discrimination in areas of society including health care, education, and the workplace.  LGBT individuals often faced intimidation and harassment…According to various reports, LGBT individuals were arrested without reason, not hired, denied access to rent/own homes, and denied access to health services….Members of the LGBT community often gathered informally in public spaces, especially in Duarte Park of the colonial zone in Santo Domingo.  However, formal activities of LGBT organizations were generally subjected to approval by the Community Board of Neighbors, an institution influenced by the Catholic Church and its conservative views on LGBT issues.

As an aside, diplomatic courtesy requires that the sending state ascertain if the proposed ambassadorial appointee is acceptable to receiving state.  The acquiescence of the receiving state is showed by its granting of an agrément to the appointment.  The Obama administration would  not have released this nominee’s name had it not received the approval of the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican Embassy in Washington told The Cable:

“The Dominican Republic is a democracy with a vibrant media and a wide diversity of opinions on every conceivable topic,” the statement read. “However, it is the position of the Government of the Dominican Republic that a person´s sexual preference is strictly a personal matter and it looks forward to working constructively with Mr. Brewster in his official capacity once his nomination is approved by the US Senate.”

As of this writing, no schedule has been announced yet for Mr. Brewster’s confirmation hearing.

Related item:

June 21, 2013  President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

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