Dominican Religious Leaders Protest Obama's Ambassador Nomination

Thursday, 11 Jul 2013 04:50 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Religious organizers in the Dominican Republic are staging a Black Monday protest against President Barack Obama's nomination of openly gay James "Wally" Brewster as ambassador to their country.

If Brewster is confirmed, he will be the first homosexual ambassador to the Dominican Republic, causing some church leaders in the conservative Christian nation of 9 million people to call for the nomination to be rejected, Foreign Policy reports.

The church leaders are also asking the faithful to dress in black on Monday to join in the protest against Brewster's nomination.

Brewster currently works for Chicago consulting firm SB&K and has worked raising funds for Obama's campaign. Brewster is a national LGBT co-chair for the Democratic National Committee and is on the board of the Human Rights Campaign fund, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Gay activists have spoken out in Brewster's defense, saying that the words of the Dominican religious officials are filled with hate.

The U.S. Embassy, too, has upheld Brewster's nomination.

"Brewster arrives as an ambassador, he's not coming here as an activist for the gay community," U.S. Embassy spokesman Daniel Foote said in a statement.

Dominican expat Will Williams, an architect in New York City, told Foreign Policy that he personally watched the animosity toward Brewster in a visit last week.

"I could confirm myself that the opposition has been even worse from what has been reflected in the news," he said. "As a Dominican, I feel ashamed this is happening in my country. The evangelical church is convoking the general public to reject this ambassador. [It's] asking the public to show a black band, black banner or ribbon on cars or dress showing rejection."

While the religious leaders in the Dominican Republic oppose Brewster, the country's embassy in Washington told Foreign Policy the country supported Obama's pick.

"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 U.S. Senate."

But Vicar Pablo Cedano told The Associated Press that Brewster's selection shows a "lack of respect, of consideration that they send us that kind of person as ambassador."

In addition, Rev. Cristobal Cardozo, leader of the Dominican Evangelical Fraternity, said the appointment is offensive and "an insult to good Dominican customs."

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