Features — 16 May 2014 — by Adele Ramos
Retired US judge, Carlos Moreno, to head US mission in Belize

He is reputed as the judge who cast the lone ballot in a 6-1 vote to overturn California’s Proposition 8, a state ballot initiative to overturn same-sex marriage

Retired US judge, Carlos Moreno, who is seen in some circles as an LGBT rights proponent, received the unanimous support of the US Senate yesterday, Wednesday, May 14, for his nomination by US President Barack Obama as the next US Ambassador to Belize.

Moreno would replace former US Ambassador Vinai Thummalapally, who demitted office in late 2013. Since Thummalapally’s departure, the US Mission in Belize has been headed by Chargé d’Affaires, Margaret Hawthorne.

Emilia Adams, Public Affairs Officer at the US Embassy in Belize, told Amandala today that they do not yet know when Moreno will arrive in Belize. She said that he should be here soon after he is through with his appointments and briefings in Washington, DC, so he should be here by the summer.

Moreno, who has Mexican heritage, is reputed as the judge who cast the lone ballot in a 6-1 vote to overturn California’s Proposition 8, a state ballot initiative to overturn same-sex marriage.

Moreno, who is being appointed to Belize in an era in which Belize is facing separate court challenges by the LGBT community, opined in the decision on Proposition 8 that “[t]he rule the majority crafts today not only allows same-sex couples to be stripped of the right to marry that this court recognized in the Marriage Cases, it places at risk the state constitutional rights of all disfavored minorities” and “weakens the status of our state Constitution as a bulwark of fundamental rights for minorities protected from the will of the majority.”

Moreno served in the California Supreme Court until 2011 and sought another judicial appointment, but was proposed instead for the ambassadorial post in Belize in 2013.

When Moreno appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last October, he said that helping the Government of Belize strengthen its rule of law will be one of his top priorities.

“Rule of law not only establishes equality and fairness under law, but it also promotes citizen security for Belizeans and our own citizens, and lays a stable foundation for much-needed economic development in Belize,” he said.

“I will strive to enhance our national security by helping Belize become a stronger, more secure, more prosperous partner for the United States. The United States is Belize’s principal trading partner and major source of investment funds. I will seek to promote U.S. business interests and investment in Belize by advocating policies that enable free and fair trade, improve the business climate, and curb corruption,” Moreno also told the Senate.

Moreno is married. He and his wife, Christine, have three children.

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