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Joe Biden to give Obama’s ‘gay ambassador’ crucial role in rebuilding America’s tarnished reputation

Josh Milton January 15, 2021
Rufus Gifford speaks into a microphone in a blue shirt and dark blazer

Rufus Gifford. (Ole Jensen/Corbis via Getty Images)

Joe Biden is poised to tap former Denmark ambassador Rufus Gifford for a key State Department role – the latest fulfilment of the US president-elect’s pledge to diversify top-level administration roles.

Gifford, Biden’s deputy campaign manager and Barack Obama’s campaign finance director, will play a crucial role in cobbling back together the country’s international relationships as the new State Department chief of protocol, AXIOS reported.

The Massachusetts native is one of six openly gay men who served as ambassadors during the Obama administration – this earned him the title among various pundits as Obama’s unofficial “ambassador to the gay community”.

But Gifford was swiftly sacked in 2017 by Donald Trump in a startling departure from existing protocol, which typically allowed a staggering grace period for diplomats to leave.

Rufus Gifford: What will his role entail?

The Trump administration’s combative and mercurial style left many of the US’ key allies rattled and uneasy, making the chief of protocol instrumental for the upcoming four years.

In the post, Rufus Gifford, 46, would be the head choreographer of the often delicate diplomatic dance of hosting foreign leaders and dignitaries – often be the first hand a dignitary will shake upon arriving in the US.

Rufus Gifford (R) and his husband Stephen De Vincent (2nd R) take part in the annual Copenhagen LGBT+ Parade 2014 in Denmar
Rufus Gifford (R) and his husband Stephen De Vincent (2nd R) take part in the annual Copenhagen LGBT+ Parade 2014 in Denmark. (Irfan Cemiloglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

In leading the Office of the Chief of Protocol, he would handle security and etiquette and tee up US negotiators for success.

Gifford would also oversee functions at the department and the President’s Guest House, otherwise known as the Blair House, as well as liaising with overseas officials.

He will reportedly take over the role from Trump-appointee Cam Henderson.

Obama nominated Gifford as US ambassador to Denmark in 2013 and was the subject of the two-season-long documentary series I am the Ambassador.

Alongside being an Obama administration veteran, Gifford served as an assistant to producer John Davis. He worked in movies such as Daddy Day Care and Dr Doolittle 2 and even appeared as an actor in Garfield: The Movie, according to his IMDb profile.

More: Barack Obama, Denmark, Donald Trump, joe biden, Rufus Gifford

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