Times have changed.
In 1993, two of the ugliest confirmation battles ever took place around the nominations by President Clinton of Roberta Achtenberg to be Assistant Secretary in the Department of Housing and Urban Development and James Hormel as Ambassador to Luxembourg. Achtenberg, after a bruising debate, was confirmed by 58 votes in the Senate and Hormel was denied the Senate confirmation and was appointed as an 'recess appointment'.
Yesterday, the United States Senate confirmed openly gay Ambassadors and an appointment to the Justice Department by voice vote, little debate and no dissent.
Those confirmed by the United States Senate were:
John Berry: Ambassador to Australia
Rufus Gifford: Ambassador to Denmark
James Costos: Ambassador to Spain
Daniel Baer: Ambassador to Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
Stuart Delery: Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division at Department of Justice.
The Washington Blade reports on two other pending nominations:
One pending gay nominee yet to be confirmed by the Senate is Todd Hughes, who was appointed for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The Senate Judiciary Committee reported out his nomination last week. Upon confirmation, he’ll become the first openly gay person to serve on a federal appeals court.
Another openly gay ambassadorial not yet confirmed by the Senate is James “Wally” Brewster, who was nominated as U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republican. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has yet to hold a confirmation hearing for him.
Religious groups are opposing his confirming in that country. In July, a high-ranking Catholic cardinal used an anti-gay slur to describe him and religious leaders organized a “Black Monday” protest to oppose him. It’s unclear if this opposition is playing a role in the Senate’s delay in confirming Brewster.