In 2009, Obama chose David Huebner as ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, making him the third openly gay man to hold the post.
In recent weeks, Obama has nominated five more gay men, including Brewster. Obama also nominated John Berry, a former director of the National Zoo and federal Personnel Management Office in Washington, for Australia. And HBO executive James Costos to the position in Spain and others for posts in Denmark and to the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The men have yet to be confirmed by the Senate.
None of the ambassador designates have been met with as much criticism as Brewster.
One of the top bundlers of campaign donations in Chicago, Brewster is an experience brand strategist and former executive for national shopping mall developers and owners. Obama chose him to replace Raúl Yzaguirre, who left the post in May due to health conditions.
But shortly after the announcement of his appointment to the ambassadorship, focus turned to Brewster’s work as a gay rights activist.
Brewster served as national co-chair of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) for the Democratic National Committee and a board member of the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group that campaigned against measures such as Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA], part of which was struck down last week by the Supreme Court.
Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez, archbishop of Santo Domingo, said he doesn’t “share in any way that sort of opinion or preference,” referring to Brewster.
“If the government of Washington considers they are apt to send that kind of ambassador, let the government in Washington go ahead,” he said.
López warned that if Brewster is sent to the country, “the United States can expect anything.”
The Dominican Evangelical Fraternity leader Cristobal Cardozo, meanwhile, said Brewster’s presence would be “an insult to good Dominican customs.”
Meanwhile, the small but vocal gay community here used its annual march Sunday to support Brewster.
Among the several hundred members of diverse groups representing gay rights organizations, several held signs welcoming him.
“It’s a great honor for our country to have someone of his prominence be named ambassador,” Estefanie Hernandez, a member of activist organization GAYP, said as she held a sign welcoming Brewster to motorists who passed a busy oceanfront drive. “To have someone from our community to serve as ambassador is a show of support.”
Hernandez said the gay rights community applauded the Supreme Court decisions. The top court struck down part of DOMA, thereby allowing for federal benefits to apply to married gay couples. It also cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California by declining to rule on the constitutionality of that state’s controversial ban on such marriages.
“We watched what happened in the court last week and we want that type of progress to come here,” Hernandez said.