The German government's appointment of the world's first openly gay
foreign minister has captured the imagination of a few American
pundits. The new holder of the high-profile post, Guido Westerwelle,
and his partner are being trumpeted as Germany's new "power couple." Some pundits cite his appointment as proof that America is behind the curve on gay rights, and others speculate that Westerwelle could play a positive role in visits to repressive countries.
- Sends a Message to Homophobic Nations, suggests James Kirchick at Newsweek: "Westerwelle is about to become the face that Germany presents overseas--which might be a problem for the nations where the denial of homosexuality and the imprisonment, torture, and murder of gay people are official state policies. That's why, after he takes the helm of the Foreign Ministry, Westerwelle ought to kick off his tenure with a tour of the world's most homophobic nations, speaking about the horrific ways in which these regimes treat their gay citizens. Unfortunately, he might be on the road for a while." Kirchick excitedly lays out a road trip of the most homophobic countries in the world. But he concedes, "The German government is unlikely to send out Westerwelle on a name-and-shame tour."
- Hardly a Breakthrough, writes Cameron Abadi at Foreign Policy: "It wasn't news: The chairman of the FDP, the free market Free Democratic Party, hadn't hidden his sexual orientation during the campaign -- his partner, event manager Michael Mronz, was often on stage with him at his rallies -- and no one he encountered on the trail seemed inclined to make an issue of it. Being a gay politician in Germany, it seems, is well on its way to being utterly normal, even banal.
- A Wake-up Call for America, writes Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic. "As the world moves forward, Washington has more in common with developing countries in its treatment of its own gay citizens than with the civilized world. And this president and Congress have no intention of changing that in any foreseeable future. The opposition is even worse - with discrimination against homosexuals written into its party platform."
- Well-Suited for Diplomacy, says Kilian Melloy at Edge, a network of gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender (GLBT) news and entertainment portals. Melloy begins by joking about Westerwelle, "He dresses well; he speaks well; his professional conduct is of the civilized sort. Is it a surprise that...the next German foreign minister is also openly gay?" He then explains that "being gay, while not a secret, is not part of Westerwells's professional curriculum vitae," but that "[c]ivil conduct and an ability to listen, however, are."