Obama nominates two more gay men to ambassador posts

Obama rose garden.jpg

President Barack Obama nominated two more gay men to ambassador posts today, including the first to serve as ambassador to a G-20 nation. 

Obama nominated John Berry as the nation’s ambassador to Australia and James “Wally” Brewster Jr. as ambassador to the Dominican Republic.

“These men and women have demonstrated knowledge and dedication throughout their careers,” Obama said in a statement announcing the nominations of Berry and Brewster, along with several others. “I am grateful they have chosen to take on these important roles, and I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.”

The nominations come after Obama already nominated three additional gay men to ambassador posts this month – in Denmark, Spain and to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). They must be confirmed by the Senate.

Berry was previously the highest out member of the Obama administration, serving as the director of the Office of Personnel Management from April 2009 to April 2013, and sits on the Human Rights Campaign’s board of directors. Brewster works for SB&K Global, a consulting firm based in Chicago, and is a national LGBT co-chair for the Democratic National Committee and serves on the board of the Human Rights Campaign Fund.

Although Berry was a favorite for groups like HRC, who were pushing Obama to nominate the first out LGBT person to a cabinet position or as ambassador to a G-8 nation, HRC President Chad Griffin praised the president’s picks. 

“John Berry has been a devoted public servant for thirty years, and will bring tremendous experience to our embassy in Canberra. His lifetime of professional experiences make him an outstanding choice to be the nation’s next Ambassador to Australia,” Griffin said in a statement. “Wally Brewster is an excellent choice to be our nation’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic. 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.”

Obama also nominated a Republican who supports marriage equality as the next FBI director on Friday. James Comey, who served as deputy attorney general under President George W. Bush, was one of more than 125 Republicans and conservatives to sign onto a brief filed in the Proposition 8 case before the Supreme Court arguing for the court to usher in marriage equality in all 50 states.

“To know Jim Comey is also to know his fierce independence and his deep integrity,” Obama said at a ceremony today in the White House Rose Garden announcing his nomination.

[Photo: Barack Obama looks out over the Rose Garden (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).]

Justin Snow is Metro Weekly's political editor and White House correspondent. He can be reached at jsnow@metroweekly.com.