Amid calls of protest in the Dominican Republic and a torrent of insults by local religious groups for being openly gay, the United States new ambassador to the Caribbean nation arrived this week in the capital of Santo Domingo accompanied by his new husband.
James “Wally” Brewster, who hours after sworn in to the post last Friday by Vice President Joe Biden went on to marry his partner of several years Bob J. Satawake, arrived in the Dominican Republic to mixed feelings from the government and general public. While the Dominican government has accepted the new ambassador with open arms, the Dominican Evangelical Fraternity in the country has called for a ‘black Monday’ protest, urging locals to tie black ribbons to their cars to show their opposition to Brewster.
“He has not considered the particularities of our people,” Father Luís Rosario, the director of youth ministries for the church said, according to the Daily Mail. “The United States is trying to impose on us marriage between gays and lesbians as well as adoption by these couples.”
Brewster, who owns a home in the Caribbean country, is the seventh U.S. ambassador in history to be openly gay.
Nominating a gay man as ambassador should be viewed as normal, according to a statement by the Dominican umbrella nonprofit LGBT Collective.
When he testified at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the fall, Brewster conceded the backlash he faced in the Dominican Republic.
Without directly addressing or characterizing the anti-gay comments directed at him, Brewster said that some groups in the country continued to be marginalized. He said as ambassador it would be a priority for him to work on greater social inclusion.
“I will continue our efforts to support civil society, vulnerable populations, and the disenfranchised,” said Brewster, who served as LGBT co-chair for the National Democratic Party and a member of the board of the Human Rights Campaign. “Everyone deserves human dignity and respect. Including diverse sectors of the population in the decision-making process to solve shared problems and reduce barriers to discrimination is a strategic and effective way to strengthen all societies.”
Brewster also indicated that he was ready to face head-on those who disagree with his lifestyle.
He added: “I have already begun to see the challenges and controversies I will face in this job, but the rewards of representing the American people, creating a more prosperous hemisphere, and strengthening democracy through our evolving relationship with the Dominican Republic will be far greater than any challenge or controversy I will ever encounter.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.