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Obama's gay ambassador pick does not go over well with Dominican Republic

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
July 12th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Dominican Republic, a very conservative, Christian nation of nine million people is very unenthused about U.S. President Barack Obama's ambassador nomination. James "Wally" Brewster is an openly gay political figure. The nomination has led many churches here to block his nomination, planning a "Lunes Negro" or Black Monday protest.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Brewster will be the first openly gay ambassador to the Dominican Republic if confirmed. Church leaders are pressuring the government to reject Brewster's nomination, calling upon the faithful to dress in black on Monday in solidarity against him.

Praise Christian Church Pastor Sauford Medrano has said that Brewster's nomination could cause "the U.S. promotion of gender beliefs in the country," which supposedly violates a general education law in the country that "all the Dominican education system is based on Christian principles."

Reaction to the news within the Dominican Republic is said to be far more negative than media reports have revealed thus far. "I could confirm myself that the opposition has been even worse from what have been reflected in the news," Dominican expatriate Will Williams, an architect in New York City says. He witnessed the animosity toward the ambassador in a visit last weekend.

"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."

Monica Trasandes, director of Spanish Language Media at GLAAD, defended the president's pick. "We stand with LGBT advocates in the Dominican Republic, who are calling on leaders to quit categorizing their country's population as homophobic," she said.

"We hope that James Brewster will help educate those still adversely affected by homophobia and applaud the work of LGBT advocates in the Dominican Republic," she said.

In contradictory reports, the Dominican embassy in Washington told says that the country supports the president'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."

Catholic and evangelical church leaders who opposed the nomination spoke to the Associated Press. "If he arrives, he'll suffer and will be forced to leave," Vicar Pablo Cedano said, adding that the choice showed "a lack of respect, of consideration, that they send us that kind of person as ambassador."

Reverend Cristobal Cardozo, leader of the Dominican Evangelical Fraternity, said the appointment was offensive. "It's an insult to good Dominican customs," he said.

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