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Hormel Given Recess Appointment

Ambassador Nominee Supported by Hatch and Majority of Senate Going to Luxembourg – Lott Set Up "Unnecessary Confrontation" That Damaged GOP

June 4, 1999 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

(WASHINGTON, DC) – President Clinton has given James Hormel a recess appointment as Ambassador to Luxembourg, after the nomination had stalled in the U.S. Senate last year as a result of the objections of a handful of Senators over Hormel's sexual orientation.

"A recess appointment is fair and will hopefully be the end of this conflict," said Rich Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. "Mr. Hormel is a qualified nominee, and was supported by conservative Republicans like Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon, Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico, Senator John McCain of Arizona and a majority of Senators. Senator Jesse Helms allowed the nomination to be voted out of the Foreign Relations Committee. This was a totally unnecessary confrontation set up by a tiny handful of Senators who are completely out of step with the rest of the Republican Party, and the Majority Leader's decision to back them up has damaged our party."

Shortly after Mr. Hormel's nomination in the 105th Congress, the Traditional Values Coalition, an anti-gay organization, declared that an openly gay person was not fit to serve as a U.S. ambassador and launched a public smear campaign against Mr. Hormel. Despite the overwhelming support for his nomination, including among some of the most conservative Republicans in the Senate, Senator Tim Hutchinson of Arkansas and Senator Bob Smith of New Hampshire asked Lott not to allow a vote, specifically because of Mr. Hormel's sexual orientation. The Majority Leader subsequently proclaimed the nomination "dead."

"So many Republicans on the Hill seem to understand that gay bashing is wrong, both morally and politically," Tafel said. "Mr. Hormel deserved a vote on the Senate floor, and would have been confirmed easily. It's very frustrating to see a Majority Leader paralyzed by a small handful of ideologues. For the sake of the majority, the leadership should drop this matter and move on to things that unify the conference."