Obama Appoints Gay Man Interim Ambassador to India

Peter Burleigh

Peter Burleigh

Peter Burleigh, a seasoned foreign service officer with deep expertise in South Asian affairs, will serve as America’s top diplomat in India until a permanent ambassador is named, according to reports in the Indian press.

In a 2008 profile of Burleigh in the South Florida Blade, the former acting ambassador to the United Nations said he had sometimes had to hide his sexual orientation during his more than 30-year career as diplomat:

“Up until the 1980s, it was dangerous [to be out] because you couldn’t do foreign work without security clearance,” Burleigh said. “By 1990, it was no longer a problem if you were out.”

Burleigh said he was open about his sexuality within the State Department once the policy changed. He kept his private life to himself, however, when he was assigned to foreign countries where homophobic attitudes prevailed in the culture. 

The Gay & Lesbian Leadership Institute’s Presidential Appointments Project is championing several openly gay candidates for ambassadorial nominations as President Obama pulls together his diplomatic team.  For information on the Presidential Appointments Project, go here.

  2 comments for “Obama Appoints Gay Man Interim Ambassador to India

  1. Melissa
    April 7, 2009 at 9:23 am

    Thanks, Mischa! Without the tweet on this, I might have missed it in the news flood.

  2. Misha Houser
    April 7, 2009 at 10:12 am

    There’s a site where you can keep tabs on LGBT appointments: http://www.glli.org/. That organization is actively working to place LGBT members in admainistration positions and maintains a list of who has been successful.

    Now if we can only get the administration to pay attention to non-Abrahamic faiths as well…

    To be perfectly clear, I have no problem with any Abrahamic faith, I just want to see more seats at the table for other paths/traditions. Leaving out other major world religions such as the ones I listed above is surprising to me.

    Maybe living in Southern California means that we’re more aware of other faiths, but it seems to me that outreach to those groups here will help our image elsewhere.

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