When the Dominican Republic's Roman Catholic Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez called President Barack Obama's openly-gay U.S. ambassador nominee to the island nation a "maricon,” or “f*g**t,” it raised eyebrows across the world — for different reasons.
Perhaps a generation ago, the Cardinal's comment would not have created much controversy in the country’s press, the government or the people.
Today, it’s a different story.
The nomination of James "Wally” Brewster as U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic pitted religious leaders against the Dominican public in a moment that has grown much more tolerant to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
The cultural shift has also shown the decreasing political power of the Catholic Church in a country founded on its principles. It wasn’t unheard of in the past for top leaders to consult with the Church before making key policy decisions.
"People move faster than institutions," said sociologist Ramona Hernández, director of the Dominican Studies Institute at the City University of New York. "This is what is wrong with the Church today — it's not catching up with the people."
The Dominican people are speaking and are showing signs that they are in lockstep with the majority of Latino Catholics in the United States, who are increasingly in favor of gay rights.