Church leaders in culturally conservative Dominican Republic are outraged that President Obama nominated an openly homosexual activist to serve as ambassador to the Caribbean nation.
Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez, the Roman Catholic archbishop of the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo, Bishop Pablo Cedano and the Rev. Cristobal Cardozo, leader of the Dominican Evangelical Fraternity, are urging President Danilo Medino to reject the nominee, Chicago lawyer James Brewster.
“It’s an insult to good Dominican customs,” Father Cardozo said last week.
Bishop Cedano denounced the nomination for showing “a lack of respect,” and added cryptically: “If he arrives, he’ll suffer and will be forced to leave.”
Archbishop Lopez sounded exasperated. “You can expect anything from the U.S.,” he told reporters in Santo Domingo.
Mr. Brewster, co-chairman for gay issues at the Democratic National Committee and a major fundraiser for Mr. Obama, is one of five homosexuals Mr. Obama nominated to serve as ambassadors in June, designated as “Gay Pride Month.”
He named State Department official Daniel Baer to serve as ambassador to the 57-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, former Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry as ambassador to Australia, HBO executive James Costos as envoy to Spain and Rufus Gifford as ambassador to Denmark.
NEW ISRAELI ENVOY
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planning to appoint a new ambassador to the U.S. to replace Michael Oren, who has served in Washington for four years.
Israel’s Army Radio is reporting that the prime minister will select another U.S.-born diplomat to take charge of the embassy compound off Connecticut Avenue Northwest.
Ronald Dermer, who was born in Miami Beach, Fla., to Israeli immigrant parents, moved to Israel in 1998 and became a citizen of the Jewish state. He has served as a senior adviser to Mr. Netanyahu.
Mr. Oren was born in New York and surrendered his U.S. citizenship to accept the position of ambassador.
Religious freedom advocates are angered by a bill passed in Russia’s parliament that would make offending religious leaders a crime punishable by hard labor in prison.
“With space for free expression shrinking rapidly in Russia, enactment of this bill would further erode human rights protections in Russia,” said Katrina Lantos Swett, chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
She complained that the bill could lead to “abuse and arbitrary rulings” against what remains of Russian free-speech rights.
President Vladimir Putin could sign the bill into law as early as Monday. The bill criminalizes “public acts held near religious sites that show blatant disrespect for society and [are] intended to offend believers.” Violaters would face fines of up to $9,000 and one year in prison or a year of forced labor.
• Embassy Row is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. James Morrison can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @EmbassyRow.