Monday, October 5, 2009

Guido Westerwelle

Germany's Free Democratic Party (FDP) made a very strong showing in that country's recent general election. That will bring to an end an 11-year period, that has been by far the FDP's longest stretch of not being part of a coalition government, in Germany's post-World War II history.

The FDP's leader, Guido Westerwelle, is expected to be named foreign minister in the new coalition cabinet. That will make him one of the most prominent openly-gay politicians in the world.

Prime Minister Johanna Siguroardottir of Iceland, who is a lesbian, will outrank Westerwelle from a protocol standpoint. But being head of government in a country of 320,000 people is not as prominent a position as being foreign minister of Germany, with its population of 82,000,000.

Two other names that come to mind are Barney Frank, who, as chairman of the U.S. House Banking Committee has played a major role during the financial crisis, and Lord Mandelson, whose title of Secretary of State for Business understates his importance in shoring up the faltering government of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Openness in the executive ranks in the public sector is perhaps a bit ahead of where it is at a similar level in the private sector.

Now that openness about one's sexual orientation is becoming possible even in such sensitive jobs as clergy and the military, professional sports, especially in the team sports, is just about the last job category in which almost all LGBT people are still closeted.

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