Thursday, December 1, 2016

December 1






Athletic pursuits







With a side of shirt lifters:







In the swim...






 Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg

Luxembourg's prime minister, Xavier Bettel (b. 1973) is at present the only openly gay world leader*. He became the first European Union Leader to enter into a same-sex marriage when he wed his civil partner, Gauthier Destanay, in May, 2015. Destanay, who works as an architect, comes from neighboring Belgium, and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel attended their wedding.

A native of Luxembourg, Bettel had become the youngest member of the Luxembourg Parliament at age 26 (1999). When he was sworn in as mayor of Luxembourg City in 2011, Destanay stood by his side. Continuing a meteoric political career, Bettel became Prime Minister of Luxembourg in 2013.

Bettel’s Deputy Prime Minister, Etienne Schneider (b. 1971) is also openly gay and married his partner, Jérôme Domange, earlier this year.

Luxembourg is a Grand Duchy, bordered by France, Germany and Belgium. The constitutional monarch is Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg (b. 1955 – not gay!), who has the power to appoint the prime minister and represent Luxembourg’s interests in foreign affairs. Bettel with Grand Duke Henri (below):

Trivia: Bettel’s mother is the grand niece of Russian composer/pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff. 

*Bettel (b. 1973) is the third openly gay world leader. Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo left office in October, 2014, and Iceland’s Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir left office in May, 2013. That leaves Bettel the only gay leader at present. 

Not all smooth sailing: In 1997 President Bill Clinton appointed openly gay James Hormel as ambassador to Luxembourg. Although Hormel was eminently qualified and quickly won approval from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he was subjected to an ugly confirmation battle by homophobic GOP senators such as Jesse Helms and John Ashcroft. Hormel's nomination was blocked by Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, who refused to schedule a vote. Two years later (May 1999), to the outrage of some Republicans, Clinton named Hormel ambassador by a recess appointment, making Hormel the first openly gay ambassador to represent the United States. That was the same year that still-closeted Xavier Bettel became the youngest member of the Luxembourg parliament.

Luxembourg, the second-wealthiest country after Qatar*, was ranked #14 overall by U.S. News when it published a 2016 list of the 25 “best countries” **. Luxembourg ranked No. 1 in Open for Business and No. 10 in Quality of Life. Luxembourg is a major center for large private banking, and its finance sector is the largest contributor to its economy.

*GDP per capita $88,000; Luxembourg was $81,000.

**There were nine categories, such as Heritage, Entrepreneurship, Cultural Influence, etc. The U.S. ranked #4 overall, Great Britain #3, Canada #2 and Germany #1.

1 comment:

  1. Luxembourg is also a majority Roman Catholic country, its Grand-ducal house particularly so. Alas Europe's liberal model is under open attack.