Posted: 1:58 pm EDT
Updated: 5:16 pm EDT
An anonymous petition currently posted at the White House We The People portal is asking the Obama Administration “to remove the U.S. ambassador in the Dominican Republic, James W. Brewster for primarily promoting in his official duties an LGBT agenda inconsistent with the Christian cultural values and tradition of the Dominican Republic.” The petition has above 25,000 signatures as of last night and needs over 74,000 by April 7, 2016 to reach the petition threshold which would then require an official response from the White House.
And here is a counter petition supporting the ambassador.
Maybe the White House can officially respond with this video:
The removal petition is just the latest in a series of attacks that Ambassador Brewster has faced since he was appointed U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic in 2013. After his nomination was announced, the AP reported that religious groups in the country said they are outraged by the nomination of a gay U.S. ambassador to the conservative Caribbean country. DR Bishop Pablo Cedano was quoted in the media saying that if Brewster becomes the U.S. ambassador, “he is going to suffer and will have to leave.”
After Ambassador Brewster’s arrival in country, a diplomatic event in honor of Dominican Republic president Danilo Medina was cancelled. Ambassador Brewster’s husband was reportedly not invited to that event because he was not considered a “wife.” Consequently, several diplomats reportedly refused to attend and the event had to be “suspended.” (See Meanwhile in Santo Domingo: Ambassador Brewster’s Husband Not Invited ‘Cuz He’s Not a “Wife”).
This week, the Washington Blade reports: Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez of the Archdiocese of Santo Domingo has repeatedly used anti-gay slurs to describe Brewster. A group of Dominican intellectuals and religious leaders in January urged President Danilo Medina and the Dominican Ministry of Foreign Affairs to declare the out U.S. ambassador as “persona non grata” because of a U.S.-backed initiative they contend seeks “to turn our adolescents gay.”
Yesterday, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) tweeted his support saying Ambassador Brewster is “doing exceptional work under difficult circumstances.” U.S. Ambassador to Chile Mike Hammer also tweeted his support:
Previously in January:
Last year, Senator Durbin also wrote and appealed to the Pope about the hostile public remarks against Ambassador Brewster made by Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez of the Archdiocese of Santo Domingo:
Ambassador Brewster is from my state of Illinois and he is a personal friend. I supported President Obama’s selection of Ambassador Brewster and he was sworn into his position in my Senate office. Ambassador Brewster is gay and was married under the laws of the United States to his partner, Bob Satawake.
Even before Ambassador Brewster’s arrival in Santo Domingo in 2013, Cardinal Rodriguez launched a personal attack against him with public statements quoted in the popular press. The Cardinal used the hateful slur “faggot,” which he continues to use to this day. In a recent interview Cardinal Rodriguez again described the Ambassador as a “faggot” and falsely claimed the Ambassador was setting out to promote “faggotry” in the Dominican Republic. The Cardinal described the Ambassador as a “wife” who “should stick to housework.”
The Church’s teachings on gay marriage are well known but the Church also teaches us to show tolerance for those with different sexual orientations. The intolerant public statements of Cardinal Rodriguez are inconsistent with that clearly stated value.
Since your selection as Pope, you have shared a message of compassion, tolerance, and love. I remember distinctly when you spoke to us at the joint session of Congress in September and reminded us of our responsibility to “defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good.”
This can’t be easy for Ambassador Brewster, his husband or the mission.
These persistent attacks are hard to watch but imagine what it must be like for LGBT members in DR and in many parts of the world.
A Dominican LGBT rights advocate told the Blade, “This is only a reflection of the homophobia that continues to exist in this country,” Ramírez told the Blade. “If this is what the ambassador of the United States is facing, you can only imagine what common GLBT people who don’t have a political agenda are up against.”