The openly-gay new U.S. ambassador to the heavily Catholic nation of the Dominican Republic has been approved unanimously by the U. S. Senate, and he has begun his diplomatic mission to the Caribbean country, reported Advocate.com.
James “Wally” Brewster becomes the 6th openly gay ambassador nominated by President Barack Obama. But this appointment did not come easily, as Catholic and evangelical leaders in the Dominican Republic protested the appointment, as we reported earlier this summer. A Catholic cardinal in the country even used an anti-gay slur to refer to Mr. Brewster, and Catholic leaders organized a national protest where citizens wore black armbands to express their displeasure.
Several minor Catholic officials also made controversial statements about the ambassador. The Advocate stated:
“Catholic Vicar Pablo Cedano issued a vague threat when Brewster’s nomination was first announced, telling the Associated Press, ‘If he arrives, he’ll suffer and be forced to leave.’ “
The Guardian’s report added the following:
“Luis Rosario, a Catholic priest and director of church youth ministries, appeared unmoved and lamented President Barack Obama’s appointment.
” ‘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.’ “
It is irresponsible to insinuate the appointing a gay ambassador means that a government is imposing marriage equality or adoption rights for lesbian and gay people. Would the appointment of a Protestant ambassador mean that the U.S. government is imposing that religion on a nation? The irrational statements exhibited by Dominican Catholic officials could point to the fact that it is their fear of the unknown which is operating in their language.
Interestingly, it is the ambassador, in introducing himself to the nation who mentioned strong Catholic values, the kind of thing we would hope would have come from church officials. In The Guardian article, Brewster, who arrived in the Dominican Republic with his husband, Bob Satawake stated:
“My parents taught me that all people deserve respect, dignity, love and opportunity. They also instilled in me a strong belief in God, and the values of love and tolerance. Bob and I bring those beliefs and values with us as we come to the Dominican Republic. We are both thrilled to be coming back to our second home.”
To that, we say “Amen!”
Let’s hope and pray that this appointment will provide the Catholic Dominican leaders with the opportunity to broaden their views and ideas about gay and lesbian people. Let’s pray that they will be open to this opportunity.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry