- The Washington Times - Monday, April 6, 2009


President Obama is considering appointing as many as three openly gay ambassadors but is keeping details private for now, a leading homosexual activist said.

George Walker, a vice president at the Gay & Lesbian Leadership Institute, told the Washington Blade newspaper that his organization’s Presidential Appointments Project is working with the White House to recommend gay candidates for administration appointments, including ambassadorships.

“I hear there’s a few applicants, and they’re all political,” Mr. Walker told the Blade, referring to the potential ambassadors, who would be political supporters of Mr. Obama’s instead of career diplomats.

He added that he could not disclose their names and did not know the status of the nominations.

The United States has had two openly gay men serve as ambassadors abroad.

President Clinton appointed the first openly gay ambassador, James C. Hormel, when he nominated the heir to the meat-packing fortune to serve in Luxembourg in 1997.

Mr. Clinton attempted to appoint Mr. Hormel to Fiji in 1994 but withdrew the nomination after learning that homosexuality is a crime in the island nation, punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

In 2001, President Bush named a openly gay career diplomat, Michael E. Guest, to serve as ambassador to Romania.

Mr. Guest, who promoted Romania’s membership in NATO and frequently criticized corruption in the former communist nation, received one of the nation’s highest civilian awards in 2004. Romanian President Ion Iliescu awarded him the Order of Faithful Service with the rank of Grand Cross.


Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:


c Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon of Canada, who will discuss Canada’s Arctic foreign policy as part of the Statesmen’s Forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

c Zhu Keliang, East Asia program manager at the Beijing office of the Rural Development Institute, who will discuss property rights for Chinese farmers in a briefing at the Cato Institute.


c Martti Ahtisaari, former president of Finland and a Nobel Prize winner, who will deliver a speech, “Peace Is a Question of Will,” at a luncheon at the National Press Club. On Wednesday, he joins Lakhdar Brahimi, a former special adviser to the U.N. secretary-general and former U.N. representative for Afghanistan, in a seminar hosted by the Embassy of Finland and the Brookings Institution.

c Carlo Dade of the Canadian Foundation for the Americas, who will discuss expectations for the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad with leaders from 34 nations in the Western Hemisphere in a panel discussion at George Washington University.


c Ricardo Lagos, former president of Chile, who will participate in a panel discussion at the Inter-American Dialogue on expectations for the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad with leaders from 34 nations in the Western Hemisphere.

c Saleem Kidwai of India’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, who will discuss U.S.-Asia relations in a briefing at George Washington University’s Sigur Center for Asian Studies.

c Imran Aslam, a well-known Pakistani journalist and president of Pakistan’s GeoTV, who will discuss the status of the media in Pakistan in an address to Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.

c Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison @washingtontimes.com.

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