Obama Nominates John Berry, Open Gay Envoy, as US Ambassador to Australia

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By Vittorio Hernandez | June 24, 2013 3:29 PM EST

In another show of support for gays in the U.S., American President Barack Obama has nominated eight openly gay men to be the country's ambassadors in different nations.

Among the eight are John Berry, ambassador to Australia, and James Brewster, ambassador to the Dominican Republic.

Mr Berry is the former director of the Office of Personnel Management where he was instrumental in putting in place complaint procedures for employees who were discriminated due to their sexual orientation. He started his government career as an intern at the Montgomery County government and he eventually became director of the National Zoo.

He also had held posts at the Smithsonian and the U.S. Treasury.

His appointment is subject to approval by the U.S. Senate.  Chad Griffin, president of Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT rights organisation, backed Mr Berry's appointment as ambassador to Australia.

The outgoing US ambassador to Australia, Jeffrey Blieich, welcomed Mr Berry's appointment.

"I know John as a smart, energetic and extremely likeable man who is enthusiastic about the U.S.-Australian relationship ... He is a talented and dedicated public servant with a wealth of experience in senior level positions," Mr Blieich said.

There is, however, no fixed date yet when would the outgoing ambassador to Australia step down and his replacement take over.

The current US ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, David Huebner, is also openly gay.

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