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Obama nominates two more openly gay men to diplomatic posts

Friday, June 21, 2013
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WASHINGTON – The White House on Friday announced the nominations of John Berry to be the U.S. Ambassador to Australia, and James “Wally” Brewster, Jr., to be the U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, bringing to five the number of openly LGBT ambassador nominations this month.

John Berry (left) and James “Wally” Brewster

John Berry is the former Director of the Office of Personnel Management from April 2009 to April 2013, and was the highest ranking openly-LGBT official to serve in the Obama administration.

Previously, Berry served as the Director of the Smithsonian National Zoological Park and the Executive Director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. He received his B.A. from the University of Maryland, College Park, and an MPA from Syracuse University.

James “Wally” Brewster, Jr. is the Senior Managing Partner for SB&K Global, a brand strategy and consumer dynamics consulting firm based in Chicago. Brewster is a National LGBT Co-Chair for the Democratic National Committee and currently serves on the Board of the Human Rights Campaign Fund.

If confirmed by the Senate, Berry and Brewster would bolster the limited ranks of ambassadors in U.S. history who have been openly LGBT. When Obama took office in 2009, only two previous ambassadors had been openly gay. Friday’s nominations mark the seventh and eighth appointments.

“John Berry has been a devoted public servant for thirty years, and will bring tremendous experience to our embassy in Canberra,” said Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign, in a statement. “His lifetime of professional experiences make him an outstanding choice to be the nation’s next Ambassador to Australia.”

On Brewster, Griffin said “his global business and management expertise is matched by his enthusiasm and commitment to human rights and democracy around the world.”

“Wally’s political intelligence and work in public affairs and communications make would make him a valuable contribution to our nation’s diplomatic efforts,” said Griffin.

Last week, Obama nominated Rufus Gifford, his former campaign finance director, to be U.S. Ambassador to Denmark; James Costos, a vice president of HBO, as his envoy to Spain; and Daniel Baer, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, to be ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

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