James Hormel Wiki – James Hormel Biography
James Hormel, the first out gay person to serve as a US ambassador and a San Francisco philanthropist, has died. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday announced Hormel’s passing.
Hormel served as US ambassador to Luxembourg from 1999 to 2000, weathering homophobic attacks and fierce opposition to him becoming a foreign envoy.
He was 88 years old.
James Hormel Dies
Hormel, the first openly gay U.S. ambassador and a philanthropist who funded organizations to fight AIDS and promote human rights, has died. He was 88.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Hormel died Friday at a San Francisco hospital with his husband, Michael, at his side and while listening to his favourite Beethoven concerto.
Dianne Feinstein, D-California, praised Hormel as a civil rights pioneer who lived “an extraordinary life.”
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“I will miss his kind heart and generous spirit. It’s those qualities that made him such an inspirational figure and beloved part of our city,” she said.
In 1997, then-President Bill Clinton nominated Hormel to become U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg. Conservative Senate Republicans blocked the nomination. But two years later, Clinton used executive privilege to appoint him during the Congressional recess.
“The process was very long and strenuous, arduous, insulting, full of misleading statements, full of lies, full of deceit, full of antagonism,” Hormel said during a West Hollywood, California, bookshop visit in 2012 to promote his memoir, “Fit to Serve.”
He never received confirmation through a Senate floor vote, but “ultimately a great deal was achieved,” he told the audience. “Ultimately, regulations were changed in the State Department. Ultimately, other openly gay individuals were appointed without the rancour that went into my case.”
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, who is openly gay, has said that he was inspired by Hormel’s confirmation fight as a teenager.
“I can remember watching the news,” he said after his nomination by President Joe Biden. “And I learned something about some of the limits that exist in this country when it comes to who is allowed to belong. But just as important, I saw how those limits could be challenged.”
Hormel held the ambassadorship from June 1999 through 2000.
Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said Hormel’s death deeply saddened them.
“Jim devoted his life to advancing the rights and dignity of all people, and in his trailblazing service in the diplomatic corps, he represented the United States with honour and brought us closer to living out the meaning of a more perfect union,” the Clintons said in a statement.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who officiated at Hormel’s wedding to his husband, said Hormel “made it his mission to fight for dignity and equality for all” and noted his philanthropic contributions to health, artistic and educational organizations.