Perhaps the Republicans did not want to risk the nuclear option blowing up in their lap, or maybe they realized most people couldn’t care less about ambassadors. The Senate easily confirmed a rather nice slate of gay nominees before heading home for five weeks.
The Senate confirmed John Berry to serve as the ambassador to Australia. Rufus Gifford was confirmed to be the ambassador to Denmark. James Costos was given the nod to be ambassador to Spain, and finally Daniel Baer was confirmed as a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
Stuart Delery, a senior Justice Department official, was confirmed to the post of assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division. Delery argued for the Obama Administration that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.
None of the nominees faced problems getting confirmed despite all being openly gay. They were among dozens of nominees confirmed on Thursday.
During the Clinton Administration, things were more problematic. James Hormel was nominated to be the ambassador to Luxembourg. At the time, he faced hostility from various members of the Senate, including current Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Senator Jesse Helms refused to vote for Roberta Achtenberg as Assistant Secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development calling her a “damn lesbian.”
Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign told BuzzFeed that “Today the U.S. Senate confirmed five highly qualified nominees to important posts who happen to be gay. It is a testament to President Obama and the U.S. Senate that the sexual orientation of these nominees was irrelevant to their qualifications for their posts, as it should be. All Americans should be proud to have these fine public servants representing the interests of the United States.”
Senate Democrats have been threatening to change the rules governing the filibustering of Executive Branch nominees due to Republican obstructionism. Several other openly gay nominees were not up for confirmation.