President Barrack Obama appointed the Honorable James Walter “Wally” Brewster, Jr as his ambassador to the Dominican Republic in 2013. He was sworn in by Vice President Biden 22 NOV 2013. The Roman prelates of the Caribbean island nation began immediately to protest his appointment because Ambassador Brewster is gay and married to Robert Satawake. Two years on and the attack on the ambassador has been relentless. It seems that Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez has made it his personal mission to lead the charge.
The campaign against the ambassador is still front page news in the local press. The Catholic Conference of Bishops in the Republic passed a resolution demanding that the Dominican government protest the ambassador’s appointment to the island. The campaign has been savage and venomous against the ambassador and his husband. In the past couple of months the hatred has been such that three times Cardinal Lopéz Rodrígues has been quoted in the press referring to the ambassador as “that little faggott!”
The Washington Blade reports that an online petition seeking Ambassador Brewster’s ouster, initiated by Evangelicals, has garnered 32,000 signatures. The ambassador has carried an US educational initiative to the island and has visited local schools with his husband as they worked to introduce the campaign. The Catholic bishops are claiming that the message is actually a US plot to turn Dominican teens gay.
However, in spite of the vicious campaign against him, the Associated Press reports that his presence on the Island and his appearances in public with his husband has caused a cultural shift as mainstream Dominicans see a new image of LGBT folks. Once again showing that it is difficult to demonize something when you can actually put a human face on it. Everyday Dominicans are no longer seeing LGBT folks as sinful, but another aspect of the human condition. Openly LGBT candidates are now running for office on the island. A number of businesses have formed an LGBT Chamber of Commerce with assistance from USAID. Lawmakers are expecting to propose a bill in the legislature that would bar discrimination towards LGBT folks.
To date, Ambassador Wally & his husband Robert have been received as guests by the President of the Republic, Danilo Medina. They have also hosted many folks from throughout Dominican social strata and it has helped tear down the walls of ignorance and oppression. The couple have proven to be a major boom to the acceptance of LGBT folks on the island. Democrats in the US Congress have started their own campaign to support the ambassador. Through all of the vitriol of the controversy, the diplomatic couple has felt supported by the Obama administration. Ambassador Wally recently told the Windy City Times that he has never questioned his support from both the White House and the US State Department.