John Berry Weds Long-time Partner in Washington, D.C.
Shortly after being appointed U.S. Ambassador to Australia on August 1, John Berry, married Curtis Yee, a retired attorney and native Hawaiian on August 10. The couple, together seventeen years, wed at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. Yee will move to Australia with Berry.
Other Gay Ambassadors
Berry is not the only openly gay ambassador appointed by President Obama. James Costos, an Executive with HBO, will be Ambassador to Spain. Rufus Gifford, Chairman of the President’s 2013 Inaugural Committee, has been appointed Ambassador to Denmark.
The highest ranking openly gay male politician during the Obama administration, Berry, despite conservative activists’ objections, is the first openly gay U.S. ambassador to serve in a Group of 20 nation. Berry and Yee will be in a country that does not have legalized same-sex marriage.
Ambassador to a Country without Same-Sex Marriage
Said Rodney Croome, who congratulated the couple on their nuptials, a national convener for Australian Marriage Equality, “It will be a source of deep embarrassment for many Australians that our law fails to respect the marriage of the chief representative of our closest friend and ally, the United States.” Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd pledged to introduce a marriage equality bill within the first 100 days of the re-elected government on Sept. 7. The opposition leader Tony Abbott won’t commit to a conscience vote and said his party would only consider the issue after the election. Australian Finance Minister Penny Wong, a lesbian, made it public on television that she wants to marry her partner, the mother of her child.
Berry Has Always Been a Champion of Gay Rights
While at the Interior Department as Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget or during the Clinton administration from 1997 to 2001, Berry worked to create a complaint procedure for employees who experienced discrimination owing to sexual orientation, to expand relocation benefits and counseling services to domestic partners of employees, establishing a liaison to gay and lesbian workers, and to eliminate discriminatory provisions of the National Park Service’s law enforcement standards.
He also supported a repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, signed by ex-President Clinton. Berry previously stated support for benefits for same-sex partners of federal employees.