I just had the privilege of attending the swearing-in ceremony for my old friend David Huebner as the next US Ambassador to New Zealand.
Demonstrating the importance of this appointment to the White House, Vice President Joe Biden gave the oath to the openly gay lawyer turned diplomat.
The bible on which the oath of office was sworn was held by Huebner's partner, and now husband, of more than 20 years, Duane McWaine -- who is putting his Los Angeles-based psychiatry practice on hold In Los Angeles to accompany his spouse to New Zealand. Joe Biden paid particular tribute to the role that McWaine would be playing and credited the many significant others and spouses that make such sacrifices for the American people.
The South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building was packed with well-wishers including Ambassador of New Zealand to the US Roy Ferguson.
I sat next to Ferguson and told him that he was likely to see a real uptick in tourism from bright and festive gay Americans who want to journey to New Zealand to check in with Ambassador Huebner and Dr. McWaine, who are clearly one of America's newly recognized power couples.
Ambassador Ferguson's reply: "Bring it on!"
Gay icon and human rights activist Frank Kameny attended and was recognized by Vice President Biden on his way out of the hall as a "truly famous American. . .like a really, really famous American" as Biden went over to shake Kameny's hand.
White House Deputy Director for Public Outreach Brian Bond did a great job, from what I could see, of bringing many communities together -- but many leading GLBT leaders -- to this swearing in of Barack Obama's first gay Ambassador.
Obama campaign National LGBT Finance Committee Co-Chair and former GLAAD Executive Director Joan Garry sat to my left. Administration staff members Kei Koizumi and Ajit Joshi were there wearing GLIFAA pins (Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies).
Joe Biden acknowledged openly the administration's support of appointing people to positions of national service from all walks -- including the diversity of sexual orientation -- but also said that Huebner was a widely acknowledged, brilliant lawyer involved with many successful cases of high powered conflict resolution and that he was nominated by the President to this post because of all of his skills and for deciding early in his life, as Sir Edmund Hilary once said, "not just to be extraordinary person" but rather to commit to "accomplishing extraordinary things."
It turns out that Huebner and Biden are both from Western Pennsylvania -- Huebner from Mahanoy City and Biden from Scranton.
It was a great swearing-in to attend -- and excellent to see the administration reaching out as it did to members of the GLBT community to be part of this.
-- Steve Clemons publishes the popular political blog, The Washington Note