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Hispanic Caucus Backs Pro-Gay Ambassador

Hispanic Caucus Backs Pro-Gay Ambassador

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Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus are urging the Senate confirmation of ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte, who has been criticized by the right for her pro-LGBT stances.

Aponte has been serving as ambassador to El Salvador since August 2010, when President Obama named her to that position via a recess appointment, which temporarily avoids the confirmation process. However, the time she can serve under that appointment runs out at the end of this year, so she must be confirmed in order to continue.

Seven caucus members urged her confirmation Tuesday "in gloves-off political terms," The Washington Post reports. "What really makes me mad about this delay and obfuscation is the willingness of my Republican colleagues in the Senate to sacrifice a remarkable Hispanic woman in order to express dissatisfaction with the administration," said Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey.

Added Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat: "Between Mari Carmen Aponte and [Supreme Court justice] Sonia Sotomayor, there seems to be something amiss over in the Senate with Republicans refusing to confirm strong, smart Puerto Rican women for important positions for which they are eminently qualified."

Republican South Carolina senator Jim DeMint, a chief opponent of Aponte's appointment, responded by saying, "All of us are concerned that we get people who we know are the right people."

He has objected to an opinion piece Aponte wrote for a Salvadorean newspaper, praising the nation's efforts to protect LGBT people from discrimination. He claimed the op-ed was an "attempt to impose a pro-gay agenda" on El Salvador, even though she was praising moves made by that country's president.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved her appointment 10-9 last week, with Democrats in favor, Republicans against. It is uncertain if the full Senate will vote on her nomination, as there are just a few days left in the current session.

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