Trump Names Anti-LGBT Lawmaker as Ambassador to Gay-Friendly Netherlands

Pete Hoekstra
U.S. President George W. Bush signs the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 during a ceremony in Washington, December 17, 2004. Standing in back of Bush are from left Senator Bill Frist, Lee Hamilton, vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission, Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Thomas Kean, chairman of the 9/11 Commission, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), and Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI). Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Pete Hoekstra, an ex-Congressman and member of the conservative Tea Party movement, is President Donald Trump’s pick for ambassador to the Netherlands.

The former representative will need approval from Senate and the Hague - often a formality in ambassadorial nominations - and he will return to work in the country of his birth. The pick may seem an astute one, given Hoekstra’s government experience and ties to the Dutch nation - he was born in the Netherlands, moving to the U.S. at age three, before eventually representing a constituency with a large Dutch-American community including his hometown of Holland Michigan, named for the biggest region in the Netherlands.

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But his views on gay rights put him at odds with the the first country to legalize same-sex unions.

Trump has “put a Dutchman in the Netherlands – but it is a Dutchman from the Netherlands of the 50s,” Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant declared after the White House announced the choice of Hoekstra earlier this week.

Hoekstra’s right-wing sensibilities, supporting the death penalty, arguing refugees are a threat to Europe, opposing gay marriage and repeatedly voting in Congress to limit women’s right to abortion, are likely to be a source of controversy in the liberal lowlands of northern Europe.

Dutch national broadcaster NOS said Hoekstra may be proud of his heritage but his views on abortion and gay marriage are out of step with the majority of his Dutch compatriots.

His past comments on the Netherlands specifically echo concerns voiced by the resurgent far-right, claiming that the country was victim to a “secret jihad” facing Europe.

“Cars are being set on fire. Politicians are being set on fire,” he said. “Yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands.”

Dutch representative to European Parliament, Sophie in ‘t Veld, said Dutch liberals “will certainly remind him his roots lie in a country that values tolerance, equality and inclusion.”

“We are looking forward with interest to cooperating with Mr. Hoekstra,” she said. “We are proud of being the first country worldwide to have legislated for same-sex marriage. We are proud to have the lowest abortion rates in the world, and it is safe and legal.”

“We are proud in our country that people of immigrant origin can be mayor of a big city or speaker of a parliament,” she said. “We expect the representative of our friend and ally the United States to fully and wholly respect our values and to show that respect in his all his acts and words.”

One of the biggest Dutch newspapers  Telegraaf spoke to Hoekstra in January to confirm he had discussed a possible station in the country of his birth. Perhaps anticipating the ideological impasse to come, he said he was prepared for “directness” in Netherlands.

“Allies and friends tell each other the truth,” he said. “That's important”