PEEK

Gay Ambassador Resigns Over State Department Discrimination Against Homosexual Employees

Faiz Shakir: Michael Guest was the first openly gay man confirmed by U.S. Senate to serve as a U.S. Ambassador.
This post, written by Faiz Shakir, originally appeared on Think Progress

Appointed by President Bush in 2001 to be Ambassador to Romania, Michael Guest was the first publicly gay man to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as a U.S. Ambassador. Then-Secretary of State Colin Powellexplicitly noted the presence of and positively recognized Guest's same-sex partner, Alex Nevarez, during the swearing-in ceremony. The Human Rights Campaign called Powell's acknowledgement of Nevarez a "small gesture that spoke volumes."

But serving as an openly-gay ambassador under the Bush administration proved not to be as pleasant as his swearing-in. Guest retired recently, and at his retirement ceremony, "he did what few people do -- displayed uncommon courage and threw a rhetorical hand-grenade into his own party." The New York Times reports, "Guest took Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (who was not present) to task for failing to treat the partners of gay and lesbian foreign service officers the same as the spouses of heterosexual officers." Guest said that was the reason for his departure:
"Most departing ambassadors use these events to talk about their successes . . . But I want to talk about my signal failure, the failure that in fact is causing me to leave the career that I love," said Mr. Guest, 50, whose most recent assignment was dean of the leadership and management school at the Foreign Service Institute, the government's school for diplomats.
"For the past three years, I've urged the Secretary and her senior management team to redress policies that discriminate against gay and lesbian employees. Absolutely nothing has resulted from this. And so I've felt compelled to choose between obligations to my partner -- who is my family -- and service to my country. That anyone should have to make that choice is a stain on the Secretary's leadership and a shame for this institution and our country," he said.
Faiz Shakir is the Research Director at the Center for American Progress and serves as Editor of ThinkProgress.org and The Progress Report.
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