|40th United States Ambassador to Romania|
September 24, 2001 – July 8, 2004
|President||George W. Bush|
|Preceded by||James Carew Rosapepe|
|Succeeded by||Jack Dyer Crouch, II|
Michael E. Guest (born 1957) was the U.S. Ambassador to Romania, appointed by President George W. Bush. Guest was sworn in by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on September 18, 2001 and took up his duties on September 24, 2001. During his speech at Guest's swearing-in ceremony in the State Department Diplomatic Reception Room, Powell explicitly noted the presence of and positively recognized Guest's life partner, Alex Nevarez. LGBT rights groups viewed Guest's appointment, and Powell's remarks, as historic and indicative of greater recognition of gay State Department employees and same-sex partners. Socially conservative groups expressed opposition to Guest's appointment and to Powell's gesture.
A Foreign Service officer since 1981, Guest was the first publicly gay man to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as a U.S. Ambassador. The first publicly gay ambassador, James Hormel, received a recess appointment from Bill Clinton after the Senate failed to confirm his nomination. Guest resided together with Nevarez at the residence of the American Embassy in Bucharest until 2004 when his appointment came to an end. Romania's last anti-gay law, Article 200 of the Penal Code, which criminalised public manifestations of homosexuality, was repealed shortly before Guest's arrival as ambassador in 2001.
During his tenure as ambassador, Guest was outspoken against public corruption, which he said had impeded Romania's development since the fall of communism. At the same time, his ambassadorship was characterized by strong relations between the U.S. and Romania. Romania committed troops to support U.S.-led efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Romania was also admitted into NATO and intensified negotiations that would eventually lead to the country's accession into the European Union. President George W. Bush made an official visit to Bucharest in 2002.
Before Guest's departure from Romania at the end of his duties in 2003, then Romanian President Ion Iliescu awarded him the Romanian "Order for Faithful Service in the Rank of Grand Cross" in appreciation for his "high professionalism, dedication to his mission ... and for his personal contribution to the strengthening of the Romanian-American partnership." In April 2003, the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce recognized him with a Leadership Award, which honors individuals who have made a significant difference in promoting equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people. In 2004, the Department of State awarded him the Charles E. Cobb, Jr. award for Initiative and Success in Trade Development due to his leadership in increasing trade between the U.S. and Romania. In June 2006, the American Foreign Service Association awarded him the Christian Herter Award for Constructive Dissent, for his advocacy on behalf of equality for State Department gay and lesbian employees.
On December 4, 2007 the New York Times reported. that Guest had retired from the State Department, where he most recently served as a dean at the Department's Foreign Service Institute. At his retirement ceremony in the Treaty Room, Guest publicly criticized Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on the issue of discrimination against gay employees and specifically the benefits given to same-sex partners of those employees. He remarked, "I've felt compelled to choose between obligations to my partner — who is my family — and service to my country. That anyone should have to make that choice is a stain on the Secretary's leadership and a shame for this institution and our country."
On December 5, 2008, the Associated Press reported that Guest had been selected as a member of President-elect Barack Obama's transition team at the State Department and indicated he could be under consideration for a senior-level appointment in the incoming Obama administration.
Guest was a co-author of the Dallas Principles.
- Michael E. Guest
- Concerned Women for America - Powell Acknowledges Homosexual Partner of Ambassador, Post Says
- National Lesbian and Gay Task Force
- Unequal Treatment at the State Department December 3, 2007, 2:20 pm, The New York Times Editorial Board
- Gay Ambassador Resigns Over State Department's Discrimination Against Gay and Lesbian Employees Last visited Dec 4 2007