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Senate Blocks Vote on Pro-Gay Ambassador

Senate Blocks Vote on Pro-Gay Ambassador

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Senate Republicans have prevented a vote on the confirmation of Mari Carmen Aponte as U.S. ambassador to El Salvador, objecting to her in part because of her pro-LGBT stances.

To end debate on Aponte's nomination and move to a confirmation vote would require the approval of 60 senators; only 49 voted in favor of that Monday, the Washington Blade reports. Aponte has been serving as ambassador to El Salvador since 2010 under a recess appointment by President Obama, but that expires at the end of this year, so she must be confirmed by the Senate by January 3 to continue in that position.

Republican senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, a leading opponent of Aponte's appointment, mentioned a pro-LGBT editorial she wrote for a Salvadoran newspaper as an argument against confirmation. He has brought up the editorial on several occasions.

"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 Senate floor Monday, according to the Blade. "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."

However, Democratic senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey noted that Aponte's stance on LGBT rights was consistent with Salvadoran government policy. "The true irony of this trumped-up allegation is that the editorial, which Republicans assert stirred controversy and was rebuked throughout Latin America, mirrored a May 2010 decree by Salvadoran president Funes prohibiting discrimination by the government of El Salvador based on sexual orientation," Menendez said.

Whether a confirmation vote will take place by January 3 remains unclear; it would take another 11 yes votes to end debate, and some sources expressed doubt that enough senators would change their minds. Read more here.

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