Ted Osius III officially claimed his position as the U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam in a swearing-in ceremony in Washington, D.C., by Secretary of State John Kerry. Though Osius’ appointment was announced over the summer, today's ceremony officially marks his new role as well as recognizes Osius becoming East Asia’s first openly gay American ambassador.
“[Osius] will be the first openly LGBT officer nominated to serve as an ambassador in Asia,” Kerry said back in June, after the initial nomination, according to the Washington Times. “I’m working hard to ensure that by the end of my tenure, we will have lesbian, bisexual and transgender ambassadors in our ranks as well.”
Joined by Osius' family -- including his husband, Clayton Bond, who is also a Foreign Service officer, and the couple's 11-month-old son, Tabo -- Kerry reiterated the sentiment of what it means to have the first openly gay ambassador to serve in East Asia. “When Ted first joined the Foreign Service, being open about who you love was grounds for having your security clearance yanked,” Kerry said in his remarks during the ceremony, according to transcripts of the event. “Today, the LGBT community is embraced by the Foreign Service and well beyond.”
After taking his oath, Osius also spoke on what it means to become the first openly gay U.S. ambassador in Asia and the slow progress that has brought him to where he is today. “Twenty-two years ago, when we founded GLIFAA [Gay and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies] to end discrimination against LGBT personnel, we had to keep our member list secret or risk losing our jobs. Ten years ago, when I met Clayton at a GLIFAA meeting, we didn’t expect that we could marry, that we could raise children or that we could represent our country at the highest levels.”
Upon today’s confirmation, Osius became the sixth openly gay U.S. ambassador currently in service.
“Ted’s career is a testament to the American spirit of progress, of striving to live closer to our ideals than we did the day before. So Ted, you’re the right man for the job,” Kerry said at the ceremony. “You know the Vietnamese people; you have served, and I know you will continue to serve, with courage and with grit and determination.”
According to his biography on AllGov, Osius spent time working with for the then-Sen. Al Gore (D-Tenn.) as a legislative correspondent before pursuing a career as a Foreign Service officer. His previous posts have brought him all over the world, working in the Philippines, the Vatican, Thailand and Vietnam and several other places. He is particularly recognized for his work as an American diplomat in Vietnam back in 1996, becoming one of the first diplomats to work in the country since the end of the Vietnam War. The following year, Osius assisted in setting up the U.S. consulate in Ho Chi Minh City.