Metro Weekly

Trump nominates openly gay man to be ambassador to Lithuania

LGBTQ Victory Fund Institute estimates total number of out LGBTQ Trump appointees is "less than 20"

Robert Gilchrist – Photo: Embassy of Sweden, via Facebook.

President Trump has nominated Robert Gilchrist to be the next U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Lithuania, marking the third time that the president has tapped an openly gay man for an ambassadorship.

Gilchrist, a longtime U.S. Foreign Service officer who previously served as the former president of Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies, currently works as Director of the Operations Center at the State Department, according to a release from the White House.

Gilchrist previously served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. embassies in Sweden and Estonia, and the director of Nordic and Baltic Affairs in the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. He also served as Deputy Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, Chief of the Political Section of the U.S. Embassy in Romania, and Special Assistant to the Office of the Deputy Secretary of State, according to the White House.

Gilchrist’s nomination now heads to the U.S. Senate, which is expected to confirm him without much resistance. If confirmed, he would be the third openly gay U.S. ambassador, following in the footsteps of Richard Grenell, the ambassador to Germany, and Randy Berry, the ambassador to Nepal.

Ruben Gonzales, the vice president of the LGBTQ Victory Institute, called Gilchrist a “career public servant” who “exemplifies the kind of experience that makes a strong ambassador for the United States.”

Asked about the number of LGBTQ people nominated to various positions in the Trump administration, Gonzales said he did not have an exact number for the total number of LGBTQ appointees under Trump, but that the number has decreased significantly from the level reached during the previous administration.

“We know that there were over 300 nominated under the Obama administration,” he said. “We know that the Trump administration is probably less than 20, if we had to guess.”

However, Gonzales noted that Victory Institute’s Presidential Appointments Initiative, which seeks to have qualified LGBTQ individuals nominated to various positions within the federal government, continues to be active, regardless of which administration is in place, and allows people to put forth their names for consideration. 

When Victory receives names, Gonzales said, “we do our best to support them and check their viability and hand them off to organizations or individuals that may have more influence or may be able to help their candidacy.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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