Metro Weekly

Gay former ambassador Rufus Gifford tapped by Biden for State Department

The former ambassador to Denmark will be nominated for Chief of Protocol

rufus gifford, gay, ambassador, joe biden
Rufus Gifford — Photo: US State Department

President-elect Joe Biden plans to pick gay former ambassador to Denmark Rufus Gifford to be Chief of Protocol at the U.S. State Department, Axios reports.

If confirmed, Gifford will be in charge of overseeing State Department functions, arranging itineraries for visiting foreign dignitaries, and will accompany Biden on all official international trips.

Gifford was an advisor on former President Barack Obama’s campaign and served as Deputy Campaign Manager for Biden’s successful 2020 campaign.

He became something of a celebrity during his tenure in Denmark, where he served as ambassador between 2013 and 2017.

Gifford married his husband, Stephen DeVincent, in Copenhagen after marriage equality was legalized nationwide by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015.

He also starred in award-winning documentary series I am the Ambassador, which ran for two seasons and followed his life as an ambassador, as well as his relationship with DeVincent.

Gifford’s tenure in Denmark led to Queen Margrethe II awarding him the Grand Cross of the Order of the Dannebrog for “meritorious service to the Kingdom of Denmark.”

During his time in Denmark, Gifford also hosted an annual reception for Copenhagen Pride, an event that quickly became one of the hottest tickets in town. That ended after his replacement, the Trump-appointed Carla Sands, became Danish Ambassador.

Copenhagen Pride organizers and LGBT Denmark, the country’s largest LGBTQ organization, boycotted the event, citing the Trump administration’s attacks on LGBTQ rights.

“It would sound pretty hollow if on the one side you criticize the Trump administration for their reluctance to accommodate LGBT people and the rolling back of LGBT-inclusive legislation, and at the same time stand around drinking champagne with the ambassador who represents that administration,” Copenhagen Pride’s Thomas Rasmussen told local media in 2018.

Gifford will join a number of other LGBTQ nominees tapped by Biden as part of efforts to ensure a more diverse administration, including: former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a gay man, for Transportation Secretary; Gautam Raghavan, a gay man, to serve as Deputy Director of the Office of Presidential Personnel; Karine Jean-Pierre and Pili Tobar, both lesbian women of color, to join the White House communications team; and Carlos Elizondo, a gay man, to be White House social secretary.

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's online editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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