International

First openly gay US ambassador James Hormel dies at 88

By The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO: James Hormel, the first openly gay US ambassador and a philanthropist who funded organizations to fight AIDS and promote human rights, has died. He was 88 years old.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Hormel died Friday in a San Francisco hospital with her husband Michael while listening to her favorite Beethoven concerto. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., praised Hormel as a civil rights pioneer who lived “an extraordinary life.” “I will miss his kind heart and generous spirit. These qualities made him an inspirational figure and a beloved part of our city,” she said.

In 1997, then-President Bill Clinton nominated Hormel to be the US ambassador to Luxembourg. Conservative Senate Republicans blocked the nomination. But two years later, Clinton used executive privileges to appoint him during a congressional recess.

Hormel, during a 2012 West Hollywood, California, bookshop visit to promote his memoir, said, “The process is very long and loud, hard, humiliating, full of deceptive statements, full of lies, full of deceit, full of hostility. Was.” fit to serve”.

He never gained confirmation through a Senate floor vote, but “a great deal was ultimately achieved”, he told the audience. “Eventually, the rules were changed at the State Department. Eventually, other openly gay individuals were appointed without rancor in my case,” he said.

US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who is openly gay, has said that as a teenager he was inspired by Hormel’s confirmation fight. “I remember seeing the news,” he said after President Joe Biden’s nomination.

“And I’ve 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 boundaries can be challenged,” he said. Hormel held the position of ambassador from June 1999 to 2000.

Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said they were deeply saddened by Hormel’s death. “Jim devoted his life to advancing the rights and dignity of all people, and in his pioneering service in the Diplomatic Corps, he has represented the United States with honor and brought us closer to living the meaning of a more perfect union.” brought,” Clinton said in a statement.

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