As I headed to the Dominican Republic for my little ‘Spring Break,’ the news that Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez was unhappy with the United States for appointing an openly gay and married ambassador was not particularly new information. From day one, the cardinal has made his disapproval clear.
However, after arriving in Santo Domingo, I was shocked to see the extent of the cardinal’s campaign against Ambassador Wally Brewster and his husband Robert Satawake. During my visit, the front pages of every newspaper were filled with an unbelievable campaign of hate by the Catholic Church against the talented, personable and hard-working couple. The barrage of attacks has been vitriolic and unrelenting.
Three times in the last months the cardinal has referred to the ambassador as “the little faggot.” Schools run by the church have banners outside banning the ambassador from entering their premises. The Catholic Conference of Bishops passed a resolution demanding the government protest Ambassador Brewster. Every day there is a new broadside from the Church filled with intolerance and outright hate. The open disrespect for a United States ambassador is unchecked and unprecedented.
Let’s be clear.
America’s Ambassador Brewster and his husband Robert have served our country with distinction. No one has made any charges against the ambassador except that he is gay. In fact, he is the kind of ambassador that should make us all proud. He leaves the Embassy and visits Dominicans on a daily basis. He is working with the poor, helping with education, pushing equality for women, assisting with healthcare and was even involved in establishing a 911 system for the nation.
Ambassador Brewster is hard working, intelligent, personable–in short, a damn good ambassador. His husband, Robert, works equally hard and has spent time and energy helping the LGBT community in the Dominican Republic. Recently he advised LGBT businesses on creating a Chamber of Commerce. This power couple is passionately committed to represent the United States with dignity and honor.
So where is the outrage from the United States about the treatment of an American ambassador?
Imagine if an American ambassador who was African-American was described using the “N” word or a female ambassador using the “C” word. The outrage in America, in the media, and among elected officials would be intense.
So far, the ambassador has received a statement from National Security Advisor Susan Rice: “He has the full support of this president, this White House and the entire United States government and I know he will continue to advocate tirelessly for the interests of the United States in the Dominican Republic.” While this is a clear statement of support, there has been nothing else of consequence from the State Department. In addition, several dozen members of the House have issued a letter of protest.
The failure of the two New York Senators to speak out about the treatment of our ambassador is appalling since there are both large Dominican and LGBT communities in New York. Secretary Kerry should not only speak out publicly but also lodge a formal complaint with the Vatican.
Does Pope Francis really want his cardinals calling LGBT people “little faggots?” Where are the voices of Congressional leaders who should be speaking out about the lack of support for our ambassador? Their silence is deafening.
When Ambassador Brewster was appointed by President Obama, he knew he was a pioneer like our other LGBT envoys. Being the first in a Catholic nation like the Dominican Republic, he was bound to be faced with some trials and tribulations. Brewster and his husband were prepared to face this challenge with dignity. They have done so on a daily basis. In addition to being an excellent ambassador, he is one of the finest and most decent men that I have had the privilege of meeting. Both he and his husband care passionately about the people of the Dominican Republic and represent the best of American values.
They have not failed us, but America is failing them by not speaking out forcefully against the outright hate directed against them every day.
The campaign against them has gone too far to accept the continued sounds of silence from our government and elected officials. The cardinal has crossed the line and violated basic standards of respect and and his bigotry should be brought directly to the attention of His Holiness Pope Francis.
This campaign against Ambassador Brewster by the cardinal diminishes him; even more, it should offend Americans and the ideals we profess as a nation.