US Vice President Mike Pence swears in openly gay official Richard Grenell despite anti-LGBT track record
US Vice President Mike Pence has sworn in the new ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, the first openly gay appointee of the Trump administration.
Pence, who has come under fire for his conservative views on LGBT issues, praised Grenell for his experience and said he was “uniquely qualified” to represent the US “in Berlin and on the world stage.”
“With Ambassador Grenell leading our diplomatic mission to Germany, we’re going to confront shared challenges, seize our shared opportunities, and work together to build a shared future with our allies and friends in Germany,” Pence said, before administering the oath of office.
“President Trump and I are confident that with your experience and your integrity, you will help make this historic and enduring friendship between the United States and Germany stronger than ever before.”
The ceremony was attended by Grenell’s long-term partner Matt Lashley.
Trump first nominated Grenell in September and his appointment to the ambassador post was confirmed last week in a 56 to 42 vote in the Senate.
Grenell, who previously served as the US spokesperson to the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration, has also appeared as a contributor on Fox News.
The Republican, a close ally of the President, faced opposition from Democrats in the Senate for making derogatory remarks about women on Twitter and criticising the appearances of Hillary Clinton and US ambassador to the Holy See, Callista Gingrich.
He has since apologised for the comments and deleted them from the social media platform.
“Some tweets were meant to be tongue-in-cheek and humorous. Regrettably, I can now see how they can also be hurtful. I didn’t mean them that way and removed them from twitter. I sincerely apologise for any hurt they caused,” Grenell said in a statement.
After being sworn in, Grenell thanked Pence and Trump and commented that the current administration is “totally focused on the American people.”
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“I saw the president in action last Friday in debating and talking and negotiating with Chancellor Merkel. And if every American could see President Trump negotiate, they would be wildly supportive of having him as their representative in the White House. This is a man who’s totally focused on the American people.”
He has previously spoken out against same-sex marriage and as Governor of Indiana, fought against lawsuits from gay couples seeking to marry in the state.
Pence has also supported the military policy of not letting soldiers openly identify as gay, which ended in 2011. Speaking on CNN in 2010, he said he did not want to see the military become a “backdrop for social experimentation.”
The VP also supported the reversal of Obama-era protections that allowed transgender students to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity in public schools.