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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.

Jim Hormel was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg by Secretary of State Madeline Albright in June 1999. Courtesy of the U.S. State Department.

“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.

Tom Duane Takes Office as First Gay New York State Senator

Senator Tom Duane speaks on the floor of the New York Senate during debate on HIV/AIDS funding.
Senator Tom Duane speaks on the floor of the New York Senate during debate on HIV/AIDS funding.

Tom Duane won election to the New York state Senate in 1998, becoming the second out LGBTQ+ person elected to the New York state legislature and the first in the state senate. He was also the first out HIV-positive person elected to the state legislature. Previously, Duane served on the New York City Council, where he and Antonio Pagán became its first out members when both were elected in 1991. Duane served on the council until joining the state senate, where he became one of the most outspoken advocates for LGBTQ+ people and people living with HIV.

Sen. Tom Duane

Duane’s lesbian chief of staff from his city council office, Christine Quinn, overwhelmingly won the February 1999 special election to succeed him on the council. 

LGBTQ+ Victory Fund Endorsed Candidates in 1999

LGBTQ+ Victory Fund endorsed 20 candidates in 1999.


Zeke Zeidler (D), Redondo Beach School Board, California

Dan Stewart (D), Plattsburgh Mayor, New York

Doug Robinson (D), New York City School Board, New York

Annise Parker (D), Houston City Council, Texas

Al Oertwig (D), St. Paul School Board, Minnesota

Brian Ellner (D), New York City School Board, New York

Jon Cooper (D), Suffolk County Board, New York

Seth Chafetz (D), Birmingham City Council, Michigan

Dan Baker (D), Long Beach City Council, California


Katherine Triantafilou (D), Cambridge City Council, Massachusetts

Joe Steffan (D), West Hartford City Council, Connecticut

David Sivella (D), Bergen County Board, New Jersey

Scott Robinson (D), Melvindale City Council, Michigan

Jeff Horton (D), Los Angeles School Board, California

Judy Green (D), Poughkeepsie Mayor, New York

John Farina (R), Lakewood City Council, Ohio

Randy Evans (R), State House, Louisiana

Patrick Baikauskas (R), Springfield City Council, Illinois

Larry Bagneris (D), State House , Louisiana

Tom Ammiano (D), San Francisco Mayor, California

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