Senate blocks El Salvador ambassador over gay advocacy
By Michelle Bauman
Ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte
Ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte

.- The U.S. Senate blocked President Obama’s appointment of Mari Carmen Aponte as ambassador to El Salvador, citing Aponte’s push for homosexual values in the country.

Aponte has been serving as a temporary ambassador since Sept. 2010 and needed Senate approval to continue her tenure which expires at the end of the year.

However, in a 49-37 vote on Dec. 12, the Senate rejected an attempt to move forward with her nomination.

Aponte, a Hispanic activist and attorney, drew criticism over her June 28 opinion piece this year in La Prensa Grafica, a newspaper in El Salvador.

In her article, “For the Elimination of Prejudices Wherever They Exist,” Aponte said that “each one of us” has a responsibility to work towards the recognition of “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.”

She called for increased efforts to prevent “negative perceptions” of homosexuality and to work towards a celebration of the “diversity of the Americas.”

Several pro-family groups responded by saying that Aponte had violated international law and rules of diplomacy by attempting to impose new values on the country.

According to the Vienna Convention of the U.N. General Assembly, diplomats are obligated to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of the receiving state.

Multiple Salvadorian groups have written to Congress urging that Aponte be removed for disregarding the country’s culture and morality.

Same-sex unions are not legally recognized in El Salvador, where more than 50 percent of the population is Catholic.

A May 2006 survey published in La Prensa Grafica indicated that 80 percent of Salvadorans are opposed to the recognition of homosexual unions.

In considering Aponte’s nomination, several U.S. Senators also objected to what they deemed to be unanswered questions about her background.

Aponte was first appointed 13 years ago by then-president Bill Clinton, but she withdrew her nomination after rumors surfaced regarding her former live-in boyfriend’s connections to Cuban intelligence under Fidel Castro.

She was later cleared by the FBI and has received top-secret security clearances multiple times.

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