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Senate GOP Upset Over El Salvador Ambassador's Pro-LGBT Op-Ed

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By Stephanie Samuel, Christian Post Reporter
December 16, 2011|9:07 pm

The State Department is negotiating with Cuban-American Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to undo a Republican filibuster on the reappointment of El Salvador Ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte, who posted an op-ed in a foreign paper honoring LGBT Awareness Month.

Rubio’s spokesman Alex Conant confirmed to The Christian Post Friday that the Florida senator has been in talks with the Department of State after Republicans held up a vote on Aponte Monday, and on a number of other U.S. ambassadorships in the Western Hemisphere.

Republicans are determined to derail efforts by the Obama administration to uphold global lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) right over the principle of religious freedom.

Rubio, however, hopes to use the filibuster to advocate for a tougher U.S. policy on Cuba and Nicaragua. His spokesman says Rubio plans to pull out of the filibuster if the State Department agrees to crack down on the two countries.

Republicans blocked Aponte’s nomination because, among other things, she wrote an op-ed encouraging the El Salvadoran people to embrace LGBT people despite the faith convictions of her host country.

The June op-ed, which was posted in La Prensa Grafica, stated, “Homophobia and brutal hostility are often based on lack of understanding about what it truly means to be gay or transgender.” She wrote to readers to “inform our neighbors and friends about what it means to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.”

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The people of El Salvador (literally translated Republic of the Savior) are predominately Catholic and Christian. The letter roused criticism from a coalition of pro-family, Latin-American groups.

“You intend to impose to Salvadorans, disregarding our profound Christian values, rooted in natural law, a new vision of foreign and bizarre values, completely alien to our moral fiber, intending to disguise this as ‘human rights,’” the groups wrote in a response editorial posted in El Dario de Hoy.

Republicans objected to the ambassador’s actions stating that she acted outside of duty, offending the people of El Salvador and advocating LGBT rights over the religious liberty of Salvadorans.

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, however, reportedly urged ambassadors to write the op-eds to honor June as LGBT Awareness Month.

Clinton also announced last week that the administration would be doing more around the world to bring awareness to gays and lesbians and advocate for their rights in a policy statement to the United Nations.

At Monday’s hearing, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) clarified that Latin American groups do not want a free pass to commit violence against homosexuals, but he said that America must advance religious liberty. He and other conservatives hope to accomplish this task through the filibuster.

Rubio, however, has joined sides with the filibuster in order to urge President Obama and the State Department to reconsider its people-people trips to Cuba. The Obama administration said the allowances are meant to encourage the individual freedoms of the Cuban people. However, he provided trip itineraries that show that the trips were merely tourist vacations featuring propaganda-spreading meetings with Cuban officials.

Rubio aide Conant said that if a deal is reached with the State Department, he will join the 49 senators – including many senators from the Hispanic Caucus – who have voted to reaffirm Aponte.

Aponte was confirmed as the El Salvador ambassador in 2010 during a recess appointment. Her appoint angered conservatives who had concerns about potential ties to Cuban spies. Her supporters need 60 votes to reaffirm the ambassador and 37 senators are currently holding up the vote.

 

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