The U.S. Senate confirmed Rufus Gifford on Saturday as chief of protocol for the State Department, giving him the distinction once again the rank of ambassador and a lead role in diplomatic engagement for President Biden.
The Senate confirmed Gifford for the role unanimously by voice vote as part of series of votes on Biden’s ambassadorial nominees who were similarly confirmed on a voice vote.
The confirmation marks a return to foreign affairs for Gifford, who had served as U.S. ambassador to Denmark, a role he obtained after his work as a fundraiser for the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee in the 2008 and 2012 elections.
During the 2020 presidential primary, Gifford early on endorsed Biden for president and became a top adviser and deputy campaign manager for the campaign.
The chief of protocol for the State Department is responsible for being on the front-lines of engagement in U.S. foreign policy, which means being the gateway between foreign leaders and the president. For example, Gifford would likely be a point person for any meeting between Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, making an openly gay man the face of the United States for a country in talks with a leader who has rolled back LGBTQ rights and looked the other way from violence against LGBTQ people in Chechnya.
According to a White House bio, Gifford is actively engaged as a civil society leader and has promoted and sponsored a variety of organizations, including UTEC in Lowell, Massachusetts, the LGBT History Museum in New York, the Human Rights Campaign and the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, Mass. Gifford received a bachelor’s degree from Brown University in 1996.