12/03/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Guido Westerwelle, Germany's Openly Gay Foreign Minister, Should Be Sent Abroad: Commentary

Germany is getting a new foreign minister. Cabinet officials come and go in Europe's democracies, but this is different: Guido Westerwelle, the leader of the German Free Democratic Party, will become the first openly gay foreign minister in the world. The prevalence of openly gay politicians in Europe is hardly big news: Iceland's prime minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, is the world's first openly gay head of state; the mayors of Paris and Berlin are also out of the closet. And yes, it's a milestone that this could occur in Germany, a nation that only 70 years ago attempted to exterminate homosexuals. But the truly significant thing about Westerwelle's new job is not what it means for Europe's economic powerhouse already a country very tolerant of gays but what it means for the rest of the world.