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New U.S. Ambassador to Romania,
Michael Guest, Openly Gay

New U.S. Ambassador to Romania, Michael Guest, Openly Gay

Ease of Confirmation Contrasts with 1997 Struggle over Hormel

Compiled By GayToday

Ambassador Michael Guest: Second openly-gay appointee has much easier time than the first The new U.S. ambassador to Romania is openly gay.

That's ironic, activists say, since Romania repeatedly has rejected the European Union's demands that it repeal all anti-gay laws prior to joining the EU.

According to the Washington Post, Ambassador Michael Guest will be joined in Bucharest by his partner, Alex Nevarez, who was onstage at Guest's swearing-in and was verbally acknowledged by Secretary of State Colin Powell.

"That small gesture spoke volumes," said Human Rights Campaign spokesman David Smith.

Moscow gay leader Nikita Ivanov agreed. "This is fabulous," he said.

When Bill Clinton tried to appoint openly gay Jim Hormel ambassador to Luxembourg in 1997, the Senate blocked him for 21 months. Clinton finally appointed Hormel in 1999 without Senate confirmation while the Senate was in recess.

"It is amazing, the contrast of the opposition to Mr. Hormel and the ease with which this gentleman was confirmed," Smith said. "In normal circumstances, this probably would have received a lot more attention.

"Mr. Guest's confirmation hearing transcript did not contain any mention of his sexual orientation, though he said he was not married," Smith added. "He is a career foreign service officer, has a lengthy career within the State Department, and was head of the legislative office, so he likely enjoyed stellar relationships with every Senate office."

Sydney Levy, communications director for the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, said Guest's confirmation "shows progress on the part of the U.S. government."

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"It is ironic that it's Romania," Levy said. "Ambassador appointments have great symbolic importance, but we also need the U.S. government to say loud and clear that human rights for sexual minorities in Romania are important."

State Department Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs spokesperson Kate Byrnes said September 20 that Guest would not be granting any interviews prior to his departure for Romania.

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