Richard Grenell – Photo: U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
The U.S. Senate voted 56-42 to confirm Richard Grenell, an openly gay man and former U.S. spokesman at the United Nations under the Bush administration, as the U.S. Ambassador to Germany.
Grenell’s becomes the highest-ranking LGBTQ official to ever serve in a GOP presidential administration. Yet despite the historic nature of his appointment, Grenell faced opposition from Democrats, who attempted to slow-walk his confirmation over objections related to his use of Twitter and his close ties to National Security Advisor John Bolton.
Pushing for Grenell’s nomination were the Log Cabin Republicans, who organized a campaign to have their members call senators, particularly Democratic senators, asking them to stop blocking Grenell’s nomination and confirm him. Yet in the end, only six Democrats — all of them from states that President Trump won by double-digits — voted in favor of his confirmation.
“Ric Grenell’s confirmation is historic for two reasons: He has now officially become the highest ranking openly gay official ever in a Republican administration. Second: Despite the interminable delays of Democrats hell-bent on standing on the wrong side of history, today the United States Senate confirmed a gay nominee not ‘in spite of” Republicans,’ or ‘with Republican support,’ but because of Republican support,” Gregory T. Angelo, the president of Log Cabin Republicans, said in a statement.
Yet Angelo also warned Democrats and left-leaning LGBTQ organizations that they would be held to account for their inaction during the time that Grenell’s nomination was stalled.
“Log Cabin Republicans will not forget the votes of the Democratic senators who stood in opposition to Grenell’s confirmation, nor the roaring silence from LGBT advocacy organizations who did nothing to achieve this tremendous milestone in LGBT history,” he said.
Democrats, led by U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), claim they objected to Grenell’s nomination based on three factors. First, they claimed, they took offense at Grenell’s often biting, sarcastic tweets — many of which have since been deleted — particularly a handful that mocked women politicians or media figures, including Hillary Clinton, Callista Gingrich, and Rachel Maddow.
Second, Democrats claimed, they were concerned about Grenell’s skepticism that Russia had meddled in the 2016 election and questioned whether he would be willing to push back against Russia on a host of topics, including its aggression against its neighbors, like Ukraine; its involvement in Syria; and human rights abuses, like those carried out against LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya. Lastly, some senators objected to Grenell’s ties to Bolton, with whom Grenell worked when Bolton was U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and who Democrats see as overly hawkish on foreign policy.
Several Republicans accused Democrats of hypocrisy, arguing that they would have cried foul had the nomination of a gay appointee of a Democratic president been blocked or delayed for several months. Nonetheless, Angelo said LGBTQ Republicans and their allies could take comfort that Democrats’ obstructonism eventually failed.
“Today, LGBT Republicans have a major victory to celebrate,” he said. “The grassroots advocacy of our members across the country made this win possible, and we intend to savor it.”