- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 21, 2013

Religious leaders in the Dominican Republic are calling for another round of protests Monday over President Obama’s decision to nominate an open homosexual to serve as U.S. ambassador to the predominantly Catholic Caribbean nation.

Opposition to James Brewster, a Chicago lawyer and top Obama fundraiser, has increased among conservative Catholics one month after the White House announced his selection.

Religious leaders are urging opponents of his nomination to join a “Black Monday” protest and dress in black or wear black armbands. They organized the first Black Monday protest on July 15. Supporters of Mr. Brewster’s nomination also have organized demonstrations.

Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez, the Roman Catholic archbishop of the capital, Santo Domingo, has led the criticism of Mr. Brewster. Catholic leaders have called on the government to reject his nomination.

Mr. Brewster is also the Democratic National Committee’s co-chairman for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.

Homosexuality is legal in the Dominican Republic but not widely accepted. The State Department says Dominicans display “ambivalent tolerance to staunch homophobia” toward gays.

TRIUMPH OF HOPE

When he talked of a free election in Zimbabwe, U.S. Ambassador David Bruce Wharton displayed a characteristic that Samuel Johnson attributed to second marriages.

“The triumph of hope over experience,” the acerbic 18th-century English writer said, reacting to a widower’s plan to remarry.

In much the same way, Mr. Wharton, a career diplomat, hopes that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will hold a free and fair election on July 31 — something he has never done in 33 years of a brutal reign.

“I think it’s important that we not prejudge this process,” Mr. Wharton told Radio France International. “I still believe that it is possible for Zimbabwe to have a peaceful, credible election.”

Mr. Mugabe recently displayed his own level of tolerance, after President Obama called for election reforms.

“Keep your pink nose out of our affairs, please,” he said.

The State Department’s latest human rights report displayed a more skeptical view of Mr. Mugabe. It denounced him and his supporters for manipulating the political process and killing opponents.

DIPLOMATIC TRAFFIC

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Monday

Bijan Khajehpour of Aiteh International in Vienna, and Roberto Toscano, a former Italian ambassador to India and Iran. They speak at a Woodrow Wilson International Center forum on Iran.

Wednesday

Ali Rahnema of the University of Paris, who joins a Wilson Center forum to mark the 60th anniversary in August of the coup that overthrew Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh.

Friday

Angela Freimuth, deputy chairwoman of the Free Democratic Party in Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia region. She discusses government data collection with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation.

Embassy Row is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. James Morrison can be reached at jmorrison@washingtontimes.com or @EmbassyRow.