The actual term used by Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez, referring to James “Wally” Brewster, the American nominee to the ambassadorship to the Dominican Republic who happens to be openly gay, is maricón, a derogatory term which translates as “faggot”:
When President Barack Obama nominated a gay man as the new ambassador to the Dominican Republic on June 21, he touched off a firestorm of debate in the Caribbean nation — which has devolved even to derogatory name-calling.
Catholic Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez referred to Brewster as a “maricón” — which is usually translated as “faggot” — during a press conference. At his side, Monseñor Pablo Cedano promised the nominee such an unpleasant stay in the country that he will have to return home.
“I hope he does not arrive in the country because I know if he comes he is going to suffer and will have to leave,” Cedano said. He called it “a lack of respect” that Obama “sent … a person of this kind as an ambassador,” adding, “[W]e don’t despise the person.”
Here is video of that press conference, with English subtitles helpfully added by Blabbeando:
Many in the Dominican Republic are echoing these sentiments, including Dominican evangelicals:
In a joint letter calling on the Dominican president to refuse Brewster’s appointment, the Community Christian Church and the Dominican Evangelical Fellowship called the nomination “an insult to the good Dominican customs” in “a country where gay relationships are not approved legally nor morally.”
The Dominican Republic is far from the most anti-gay country in the region. Unlike nearby Belize and Jamaica, sodomy is not a crime here. But same-sex marriage is expressly banned by the country’s constitution.
Newspaper columnist José Alberto Ortíz accused President Obama of trying to force same-sex marriage on the Dominican Republic through Brewster’s nomination, tying the appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that the federal government must recognize same-sex married couples.
“Obama knows that a large majority of the Dominican population rejects that two people of the same sex can unite in matrimony and form a family,” Ortíz wrote. “As it is not possible to convince the population of his ideology, he has opted to impose it, a typical act of an imperialist government.”
However, as the headline implies, there has been pushback, from within the Dominican Republic and from abroad:
Dominican gay rights groups, of course, have slapped back at this opposition and the threatening rhetoric coming from religious leaders.
“These prejudices are absolutely irrational and lead people to ignore the evidence, logic, and justice,” said Lorena Espinoza of the Feminist Forum.
LGBT leaders also accused Catholic leaders of having a “double standard” for attacking Brewster’s appointment while protecting a priest accused of raping 12 girls.
The attacks have also been denounced by a United Nations official in the country.
Valerie Julliand, who represents the United Nations Development Program, said that religious opposition “has no basis” and officials should not be “judged for their sexual preferences, but rather their abilities.”
After initially keeping mum on the controversy, an official of the Medina administration said it would be “indelicate” to reject Brewster if he is confirmed. Indeed, said Cesar Pina, a legal adviser to the Medina administration, the Dominican Republic signed off on the nomination before it was publicly announced.
Moreover, the US Embassy has defended the appointment, pointing out that Brewster would be coming to the Dominican Republic as an ambassador, rather than as a gay rights activists, as if any sentient being should have trouble understanding that. But as we’ve seen so many times, homophobia makes people irrational.
Blabbeando also points out that many within the Dominican Republic seem to be tired of the homophobia coming from the church:
While President Danilo Medina has not publicly spoken about the issue, members of his administration are defending the nomination which would not have happened in previous administrations.
One Catholic priest, Jesús Maria Tejada, is also buckling the religious powers that be stating that Brewster should be judged on his merits and not on his sexual identity.
Also, an informal online survey ran this weekend by HOY, a leading newspaper, had 60% of readers disagreeing with the criticism coming from the church.
It might be that people are getting tired of the church expressing outrage over what they consider immoral issues while turning a blind eye to immoral acts within the church. Earlier this month in a case that has captured the attention of all Dominicans officials called on a Polish priest to return to the island and face charges he sexually abused up to fourteen children.
I’m not sure how long it’s going to take for the Catholic Church to understand that, in the eyes of so many millions of people, they have no moral authority to speak on much of anything regarding sexuality as long as they refuse to come to grips with the institutional sexual abuse that has for so long been a feature of their organization.
These conflicts will surely arise more and more in the coming years, as the United States catches up to the rest of the Western world in promoting full LGBT equality for our citizens, and as we use our diplomatic clout to urge other nations to abandon their vicious, unfounded homophobia and, in some cases, cease human rights abuses involving LGBT people around the world.
We encourage the US Senate to stand by the strength of their convictions and confirm Brewster as soon as possible. Anti-gay sentiment is no longer acceptable among educated people, and our policies and appointments should reflect that.