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Hormel, James C. (b. 1933)  
 
page: 1  2  

Among those speaking out on Hormel's behalf were his former wife (who had since remarried), Alice Turner, and his son, James Hormel, Jr., both of whom praised him as a man of great integrity and a good father.

His political supporters included not only Democrats but also some prominent Republicans, such as Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah and former Secretary of State George Schultz. Even staunchly conservative Senator Alphonse D'Amato of New York found the blatantly obstruction of the nomination an embarrassment and urged that Lott bring the issue up for a vote.

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Since Lott continued to stall, Clinton used the process of "recess appointment" to name Hormel ambassador while the Senate was out of session for the Memorial Day holiday in May 1999. Inhofe expressed outrage at the tactic--which was completely legal and had been used with far greater frequency by Clinton's Republican predecessors Ronald Reagan and George Bush--and vowed to block all 149 of Clinton's pending appointees in retaliation. Lott agreed, although both eventually relented.

Hormel was sworn in as ambassador on June 29, 1999 with Timothy Wu, his partner since 1995, holding the Bible at the ceremony. Also in attendance were Hormel's former wife, his five children, and several of his thirteen grandchildren.

Hormel served as ambassador through December 2000. His sexual orientation was not an issue during his tenure.

Only after his return to the United States did Hormel publicly discuss the political battle. He stated that despite the stress, he was determined to see the process through, and added that enduring the vexatious experience together with Wu had strengthened their relationship.

Wu, who was born in New York but grew up in Singapore, explained that the ordeal had brought him closer to his Chinese-born parents, who had had difficulty accepting his sexuality. He said that the "incredibly vicious accusations" against Hormel had helped them to realize the "need to take a stand" for both men.

During Senate Judiciary Committee hearings in 2001 on the nomination of John Ashcroft to be attorney general, Ashcroft's role in the attempt to thwart Hormel's confirmation became an issue. Appearing before the committee in January 2001, Hormel disputed Ashcroft's previous testimony that he had, as dean at the University of Chicago Law School, "recruited" Ashcroft to study there, as well as the nominee's further claim that he had "known Mr. Hormel for a long time." Hormel stated, "I cannot recall ever in my life having a conversation with Mr. Ashcroft."

In the wake of Hormel's appearance, the Traditional Values Coalition distributed "information packets" of examples of sexually graphic passages in materials from the Hormel collection at the San Francisco Public Library, which Hormel himself had still had no hand in choosing.

Although Ashcroft was eventually confirmed, several senators including both Paul Wellstone and Mark Dayton of Minnesota mentioned the Hormel matter in explaining why they voted against him.

Hormel and Wu, a public interest lawyer, live in the San Francisco area. They are active and generous in supporting gay rights organizations, cultural institutions, and AIDS research.

Linda Rapp

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    Bibliography
   

Curtis, Kim. "Gay Philanthropist's Appointment as Envoy Causes Controversy." Seattle Times (June 6, 1999): A15.

Estrich, Susan. "Inhofe's Own X-rated Office Politics." Denver Post (June 20, 1999): I2.

Gustafson, Craig, and Rob Hotakainen. "Hormel Key Figure in Battle over Ashcroft." (Minneapolis) Star Tribune (January 30, 2001): 4A.

Kupfer, Peter. "After a Diplomatic Silence, the Gay Ambassador Speaks; James Hormel Responds to His Vociferous Critics." Washington Post (June 20, 2001): C1.

Lochhead, Carolyn. "Lott Backs Drive to Block All Clinton Nominations." San Francisco Chronicle (June 11, 1999): A1.

Locy, Toni. "Gay Ambassador Says Ashcroft Misled Committee." USA Today (January 26, 2001): 4A.

Park, Yongsoo. "Hormel, James." Current Biography Yearbook. Clifford Thompson, ed. New York: The H. W. Wilson Company, 1999. 271-74.

Roth, Bennett. "Senate Debate on Gay Nominee Turns Increasingly Nasty." Houston Chronicle (June 27, 1998): 2.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Hormel, James C.  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated July 16, 2014  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/hormel_jc.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  
 

 

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