The last thing El Salvador needs is a pro-gay ambassador, right? That seems to be the thinking behind the GOP’s latest partisan hatchet job.
When the issue of renewing Mari Carmen Aponte’s temporary ambassadorship came before tea-party favorite Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) at a hearing in late November, he criticized an editorial she wrote in June that “promoted the homosexual lifestyle” and tried to “impose a pro-gay agenda” on the country.
Nevermind the fact that she’s been serving successfully as recess ambassador since September 2010, and that nothing negative has come from this editorial in her recent tenure—save for some grumblings from Christian groups in El Salvador.
On Monday, with the help of the rest of the Senate GOP, DeMint took the floor for a successful filibuster of her appointment, essentially firing Aponte as ambassador. Unless Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid brings the issue to vote again, and she gets 11 more Senators, mostly Republicans, to sign on to her cause, she’ll lose her position on January 3.
During a discussion of Aponte’s ability to fill the position on the Senate floor, two main issues came up: First, that she had a complicated boyfriend back in 1993 who was thought to be a Cuban spy but then turned out to be an FBI informant. But the decades-old boyfriend situation is all very much behind her. As Gail Collins of the New York Times writes: “The government checked Aponte and found no nefarious Cuban connection. She broke up with Tamayo in 1994 and has received several top-secret security clearances since.” So that should not have been an issue.
And her pro-gay statements shouldn’t have been, either. But DeMint still trotted them out.
“In her recess-appointed capacity as ambassador to El Salvador, Ms. Aponte has inflamed tensions in the very country where she should be improving diplomatic relations,” DeMint said on the floor. “Her decision to publish an opinion piece hostile to the culture of El Salvadorans presents even more doubts about her fitness for the job. This op-ed upset a large number of community and pro-life groups in El Salvador who were insulted by Ms. Aponte’s rhetoric.”
DeMint fails to note that Aponte wrote the piece not because she wanted to vex El Salvadoreans but because the U.S. State Department had asked Foreign Services officers to recognize June as Pride month overseas.
Sometimes you just can’t get a break, can you?
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of State