Tuesday, December 08, 2009
In the official video above, US Vice President Joe Biden swears in the new US Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, David Huebner (pronounced HEEB-ner). Huebner is the third gay person to be appointed a US Ambassador, but he is the first to be confirmed and sworn in as an openly gay person.
President Bill Clinton appointed James Hormel US Ambassador to Luxemburg, the first time an openly gay person had ever been nominated, but that was blocked by the now-dead arch-bigot US Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC), so Clinton appointed Hormel while Congress was in recess, bypassing the Senate confirmation process. This made Hormel the first openly-gay US Ambassador.
President George W. Bush appointed Michael Guest as ambassador to Romania, but his sexual orientation didn’t become public until after the Senate had confirmed him. Afterward, right-wingers in the US, as well as some in Romania, attacked Guest and he left the post after only two years. The Bush State Department claimed that the two-year term had been their plan all along.
So, David Huebner is the first openly-gay person nominated, confirmed by the US Senate and sworn in as US Ambassador. It’s a very big deal for America, and gay Americans in particular, but, quite frankly, a non-event in New Zealand. Openly-gay people have been part of two New Zealand governments and are just another part of society. In fact, the term “openly gay” is even kind of odd for New Zealand; here it’s generally assumed that if one is gay, one has the same opportunities as anyone else.
With his experience and background, particularly with China, Ambassador Huebner should help to advance the relationship between New Zealand and the United States—which is, after all, the whole point. Ambassador Huebner and his partner are scheduled to arrive next week.
Update 9 December 2009: It turns out they arrived today. The story made the national TV news, as the arrival of a new US Ambassador usually does, but they also featured a soundbite of Ambassador Huebner saying some nice things about New Zealand.
Also, I noticed that on YouTube the video has brought out the typical anti-gay bigoted comments as well as anti-Obama lunatics. Probably for both reasons, the video is being rated down—it has only around four stars. Seriously? How can someone be so filled with hatred for gay people, President Obama or both that they give the video a one-star rating, when, if we're honest, most rational people can't be bothered to give it any rating at all?
Thanks to online buddy John Q. Public for steering me to the video.