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U.S. Senate confirms appointments of four openly gay diplomats

Thursday, August 1, 2013
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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate of Thursday confirmed a number of President Barack Obama’s nominations to diplomatic posts, including Daniel Baer to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, John Berry as the Ambassador to Australia, Rufus Gifford as Ambassador to Denmark, and James Costos as Ambassador to Spain.

John Berry (left) and Daniel Baer

Rufus Gifford (left) and James Costos

In addition, the Senate confirmed Stuart Delery, an openly gay senior official at the Department of Justice as Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division.

Baer is a former Georgetown professor and current Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

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.

Gifford was the head of Obama’s 2012 finance operation, raising upward of $700 million, anf held a similar job previously at the Democratic National Committee.

Costos is HBO’s vice-president of global licensing and retail, and was a key fundraiser for the Obama.

The confirmations bolster the limited ranks of ambassadors in U.S. history who have been openly gay. When Obama took office in 2009, only two previous ambassadors had been openly gay — James Hormel, appointed Ambassador to Luxembourg in 1999 by Bill Clinton, and Michael Guest, appointed ambassador to Romania in 2001 by George W. Bush.

In his first term, Obama appointed David Huebner as ambassador to New Zealand.

Thursday’s confirmations mark the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh openly LGBT U.S. diplomats.

“Today the U.S. Senate confirmed five highly qualified nominees to important posts who happen to be gay,” said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin, in a statement.

“It is a testament to President Obama and the U.S. Senate that the sexual orientation of these nominees was irrelevant to their qualifications for their posts, as it should be. All Americans should be proud to have these fine public servants representing the interests of the United States,” he said.

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