By Nicole Murray Ramirez | Conversations with Nicole
Major milestone in Germany’s new ambassador
Past gay ambassadors nominated by the president served small countries or countries anyone hardly heard of. Well not this time as last week former San Diegan Ric Grenell was sworn in as the 29th United States Ambassador to Germany at a White House ceremony attended by his beloved mother, Judi, brothers Jeff and Brad, as well as his husband Matt Lashey and his parents Dave and Nancy. Also attending was the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump, Kellyanne Conway, Hugh Hewitt, actress Suzanne Somers and Vice President Mike Pence. Ambassador Grenell’s outstanding career as a top policy and communication advisor at almost every level of government indeed makes him the most qualified gay American ever to be nominated. In fact, Grenell was the longest-serving spokesman for our great country at the United Nations.
Grenell is now one of the highest-ranking LGBT members of the current administration, but his nomination received hardly any support from national LGBT leaders and organizations as he is a well-known national gay Republican leader. For months, he was attacked by Democrats on bogus issues and some even tried to paint him as anti-woman.
Among those who did support his nomination were Stuart Milk, Harvey Milk Foundation founder; Nathan Page, International Court System executive director; Rob Surreal; the International Imperial Court Council; Canada and Mexico presidents; and yes, myself. I spent months lobbying for his confirmation and comprehend first-hand the hypocrisy and bias of many of our LGBT leaders and organizations, who passed judgement on him without ever knowing him or meeting him. But for many, all they needed to know was that he was a Republican. And let me make it very clear that I don’t agree with all of Ric’s political positions (I didn’t agree with all of the Clintons’ and Gov. Jerry Brown’s positions but voted for them), but I do know this. Grenell is a proud gay American and has supported LGBT civil rights all his life and is happily married to his husband, and like many of us, is a Christian.
I first met Ric in the 1990s as we were strong supporters of Mayor Susan Golding and we both served in her administration. Recently, I asked Grenell what he best remembers about those years and he said, “Working with Susan Golding who saw the East Village (Ballpark District) as a must-accomplish project when so many people thought she was crazy.” He also came to San Diego to advise the congressional campaign of former Councilmember Carl DeMaio, who I also supported. The day that Grenell got confirmed by the U.S. Senate, he called me and expressed his sincere appreciation for my support … that is the way he has always been — loyal to his friends as well as to his community.
This past Sunday, I asked Grenell what most he was looking forward to when he moves to Germany and he said, “I am looking forward to working with the German people to deepen our crucial alliance with them. We have so much in common and our differences are minor when compared to the crises we face around the world.” The day after his confirmation, Grenell joined the president and vice president at the White House to welcome German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the United States.
The Rev. Dr. Smith, Rev. Bridges and Rev. Koeshall
Recently, I had the honor and pleasure attending and speaking at three … yes, three prominent pastors’ birthday tribute celebrations held three days in a row. First was San Diego Metropolitan Community Church’s Rev. Dan Koeshall … a very beloved man who has a smile for everyone. Koeshall was celebrating his 58th birthday. The next day, it was a high tea 60th birthday celebration for the Very Rev. Penny Bridges, dean of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral. Bridges is one of the most respected clergy in San Diego and her leadership and devotion to the homeless and poor is amazing. I had a good time when I gave my remarks sometimes in the voice of Queen Elizabeth … well, maybe in reality, Queen Victoria.
When I spoke at the 90th birthday tribute luncheon of Rev. Dr. George Walker Smith at the Christ United Presbyterian Church, I called him “the Martin Luther King Jr. of San Diego.” And indeed, he is. In my life, I have met and worked with Harvey Milk, Cesar Chavez, had dinner with presidents, governors, senators, as well as Mrs. Coretta Scott King. Well, Smith on that list of great Americans I have had the honor to work with or meet. Smith believed we were all God’s children and we met in the 1970s and worked together for the civil rights and equality of all San Diegans. It was truly indeed my honor to speak at these true Christian leaders’ birthday celebrations. God bless them all.
— Nicole Murray Ramirez has been writing a column since 1973. He has been a Latino/gay activist for almost half a century and has advised and served the last seven mayors of San Diego. Named the “Honorary Mayor of Hillcrest” by a city proclamation, he has received many media awards including from the prestigious San Diego Press Club. Reach Nicole at Hillcrestqueen5@gmail.com.
Editor’s Note: The opinions written in this column are the author’s own and by no means reflect or represent the opinions of the staff and/or publisher of Gay San Diego and/or its parent company, San Diego Community News Network (SDCNN). The newspaper and its staff should be held harmless of liability or damages.