Jim Hormel Sworn in as America’s First Gay Ambassador
A philanthropist with a law degree from the University of Chicago Law School, Jim Hormel was a founding member of the Human Rights Campaign Fund and was on the board of the American Foundation for AIDS Research. In 1995, President Clinton appointed him to serve on the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and in 1996, he served on the U.S. delegation to the UN General Assembly.
But when Clinton nominated him as U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg in 1997, with approval from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, anti-LGBTQ+ religious zealots refused a floor vote, claiming Hormel was pro-pornography because he funded an LGBTQ+ history section at the San Francisco Public Library. Clinton gave him a recess appointment in May 1999, and he was sworn in as America’s first gay ambassador by Secretary Madeline Albright in June 1999 with his then-partner, Timothy Wu.
“Until the time that people accept that all of us are born into our sexual orientation and identity, LGBT citizens will still endure discrimination and selective application of the Constitution’s protections,” Hormel wrote in an op-ed for CNN on November 16, 2011.