- September 25 - Last week, Secretary of State Colin Powell presided over the swearing in of Michael Guest, an openly gay man, as U.S. Ambassador to Romania. Guest, a career foreign service officer, won easy confirmation from the Senate last month. At the ceremony, Secretary Powell acknowledged Guest's domestic partner of six years, teacher Alex Nevarez, who plans to join Guest in Bucharest.
"With this nomination, George W. Bush put into practice what we have known all along - that a persons sexual orientation has no bearing upon ones ability to do a job and successfully serve our country," said Lorri L. Jean, executive director of NGLTF. "We applaud this appointment and hope to see many more openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people serving in this capacity. Unfortunately, this is only the second such person named out of many thousands of appointments in the Bush Administration."
NGLTF's W Watch web site, which has chronicled the appointments of the Bush Administration and tracks the appointment of openly GLBT people, increased its count to the whopping grand total of two. The first was AIDS Policy Director Scott Evertz. [ Go to W Watch. ]
Although Guest will not be the first openly gay man to serve as a U.S. Ambassador, his appointment marks the first time an openly gay person has been confirmed by the Senate to serve in such a post. The first openly gay man to assume the position of U.S. Ambassador was San Francisco philanthropist James C. Hormel. Nominated by President Clinton, Hormel's confirmation was held up in the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee by Chairman Jesse Helms. Helms' stonewalling of the confirmation simply because Hormel was gay became front page news and vividly exemplified the job discrimination faced every day by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Clinton eventually appointed Hormel during a Congressional recess, bypassing the confirmation process.
"Our community owes a serious debt of gratitude to Jim Hormel for blazing the trail of Ambassadorial service with great competence and grace," stated Jean. "It is because of exemplary service by Jim and his partner, Tim Wu, that Mr. Guest could receive Senate confirmation without even a mention being made of his sexual orientation. Thanks to the leadership of Mr. Hormel and Mr. Guest, let's hope that the prejudice against openly GLBT Ambassadorial candidates has been buried forever."
Jean, added, "We congratulate Ambassador Guest and send him best wishes in his new post."
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has worked to eliminate prejudice, violence and injustice against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people at the local, state and national level since its inception in 1973. As part of a broader social justice movement for freedom, justice and equality, NGLTF is creating a world that respects and celebrates the diversity of human expression and identity where all people may fully participate in society.