Politics

President Biden appoints the first lesbian to ambassador-level position in history

Chantale Wong is being appointed to an ambassadorship as U.S. Director of the Asian Development Bank
Chantale Wong is being appointed to an ambassadorship as U.S. Director of the Asian Development Bank

President Joe Biden announced that he is appointing Chantele Wong to be the ambassador-level position of U.S. Director of the Asian Development Bank, an financial institution that works on the government level with over 60 member countries to provide fiscal services.

As an observing member of the United Nations, the director post is the same level as an ambassadorship position within the State Department. If confirmed, Wong will become the first lesbian woman and the first out LGBTQ person of color in history to serve in a role of that level, according to the Victory Institute.

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With the announcement of her appointment, the White House stated that Wong is “a leading authority in international development policy with over 30 years of experience in the multi-disciplinary field that includes finance, technology, and the environment.”

“Today Chantale moved the bar as the first out lesbian and first out LGBTQ person of color nominated at an ambassador level,” Annise Parker, President and CEO of the Victory Institute, said in a statement, “let this important moment is about more than making history,” said Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute.

Parker notes that many member countries to the Asian Development Bank are behind on protecting LGBTQ rights. “Chantale will represent the most powerful nation in the Asian Development Bank at a time when many of its member states criminalize LGBTQ people and deny them the right to marry,” she said.

“Chantale will be a powerful symbol of the Biden administration’s commitment to equality and member states will be forced to notice and respect it.”

Wong was previously a U.S. representative to the Asian Development Bank.

Wong has served within both the Clinton and Obama administrations and in government for at least 25 years. She was previously appointed as the chief financial officer for the foreign aid agency Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Budget Director at NASA, and the Acting Budget Director of the US Treasury Department.

Wong initially enjoyed retirement after then president Donald Trump came into office, with the office of U.S. director to the bank being left unfilled for years under the Trump administration.

Earlier this year, Press Secretary Jen Psaki explained that she was sure that Biden would name LGBTQ people to ambassador positions “soon.”

“We hope to soon [name more ambassadors]; stay tuned,” she responded to a question at a briefing in May.

“Certainly, the President looks to ensuring that the people representing him — not just in the United States, but around the world — represent the diversity of the country, and that certainly includes people who are LGBTQ, members of the transgender community.”