Donald Trump appoints out gay man Richard Grenell to major diplomatic role
LGBT Republicans are claiming a victory after President Donald Trump handed one of the biggest diplomatic jobs in his administration to an openly gay man.
Richard Grenell, a former national security adviser, has been appointed as US ambassador to Germany.
Grenell has been a prominent gay voice on the right for several decades, previously serving as a UN ambassador for eight years under President George W. Bush.
The 51-year-old was an early backer of Donald Trump and has been a close ally since he rose to power.
Log Cabin Republicans, the party’s LGBT wing, claimed Grenell’s confirmation to the post was evidence of their lobbying.
“Ric Grenell’s confirmation is historic for two reasons: He has now officially become the highest ranking openly gay official ever in a Republican administration,” the group’s president Gregory T. Angelo said in a statement.
“Despite the interminable delays of Democrats hell-bent on standing on the wrong side of history, today the United States Senate confirmed a gay nominee not ‘in spite of’ Republicans, or ‘with Republican support,’ but because of Republican support.”
The new post makes Grenell the most senior LGBT person appointed to office in a Republican administration.
He was confirmed by a vote of 56-42, with Democrats challenging Grenell’s past taunting of powerful women, often being critical of their appearance.
He tweeted that Rachel Maddow “needs to take a breath and put on a necklace,” and said Hillary Clinton “is starting to look like Madeleine Albright.”
Republicans claimed interrogation by Democrats proved they were on the wrong side of history.
“Log Cabin Republicans will not forget the votes of the Democratic senators who stood in opposition to Grenell’s confirmation, nor the roaring silence from LGBT advocacy organisations who did nothing to achieve this tremendous milestone in LGBT history,” said Angelo.
“Today, LGBT Republicans have a major victory to celebrate. The grassroots advocacy of our members across the country made this win possible, and we intend to savor it.”
Grenell has praised Trump in the past for threatening to walk away from NATO, calling it a smart negotiating tactic.
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However, the new ambassador previously differed with Trump on the issue of Russia.
He argued that Ukraine should be allowed to join NATO, a move that would anger Russian authorities.
Under President Obama, the post of LGBT Rights Envoy was created and occupied by diplomat Randy Berry.
Berry remained in the post under Trump for several months, until he left the post in November 2017. It has not been filled since.