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Latin American gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens reach high government offices

BY VIVIAN SEQUERA AND FRANK BAJAK, ASSOCIATED PRESS

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Tatiana Pineros is a man by birth and a woman by choice.

Pineros, 34, is also a high-powered public servant who manages a $360 million budget and nearly 2,000 employees in Colombia's biggest and most powerful municipal government.

Her appointment by Bogota's new mayor to head the capital's social welfare agency was remarkable for how unremarkably it was received by Colombia's predominantly Roman Catholic public.

Across Latin America, public acceptance is gradually growing for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, officials. It's a phenomenon that has accompanied activists' broader struggle to win rights to marry, adopt children or share financial benefits with same-sex partners, and to transform the way socially conservative nations view and treat gays.

"It's all about the mobilization of groups demanding their rights," said Colombia's best-known gay activist, Marcela Sanchez. "It didn't just spring up spontaneously."

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