James Hormel, first openly gay U.S. ambassador, dies at 88

Aug 13, 2021, 5:29 AM | Updated: 6:51 pm

FILE— In this June 29, 1999, file photo, James C. Hormel, ambassador to Luxembourg, speaks to supporters following his swearing-in at a State Department ceremony in Washington. Hormel, who became the nation's first openly gay ambassador, died in San Francisco, Friday Aug. 13, 2021. Hormel, who was appointed to be the ambassadorship by President Bill Clinton in 1997, was 88. (AP Photo/Khue Bui, File)

(AP Photo/Khue Bui, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — James Hormel, the first openly gay U.S. ambassador and a philanthropist who funded organizations to fight AIDS and promote human rights, has died. He was 88.

Hormel died Friday at a San Francisco hospital with his husband, Michael, at his side and while listening to his favorite Beethoven concerto, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, praised Hormel as a civil rights pioneer who lived “an extraordinary life.”

“I will miss his kind heart and generous spirit. It’s those qualities that made him such an inspirational figure and beloved part of our city,” she said.

In 1997, then-President Bill Clinton nominated Hormel to become U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg. Conservative Senate Republicans blocked the nomination. But two years later, Clinton used executive privilege to appoint him during the Congressional recess.

“The process was very long and strenuous, arduous, insulting, full of misleading statements, full of lies, full of deceit, full of antagonism,” Hormel said during a West Hollywood, California, bookshop visit in 2012 to promote his memoir, “Fit to Serve.”

He never received confirmation through a Senate floor vote but “ultimately a great deal was achieved,” he told the audience. “Ultimately, regulations were changed in the State Department. Ultimately, other openly gay individuals were appointed without the rancor that went into my case.”

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, who is openly gay, has said that as a teenager he was inspired by Hormel’s confirmation fight.

“I can remember watching the news,” he said after his nomination by President Joe Biden. “And I 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 limits could be challenged.”

Hormel held the ambassadorship from June 1999 through 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 trailblazing service in the diplomatic corps, he represented the United States with honor and brought us closer to living out the meaning of a more perfect union,” the Clintons said in a statement.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who officiated at Hormel’s wedding to his husband, said Hormel “made it his mission to fight for dignity and equality for all” and noted his philanthropic contributions to health, artistic and educational organizations.

“When the AIDS epidemic descended upon San Francisco, he called on our conscience and rallied the city to help our neighbors suffering from the ferocious disease,” Pelosi said in a statement. “His work served as a model for national policy to defeat HIV/AIDS and improve the lives of all affected.”

Hormel was an heir to the Hormel Foods fortune. Born in Austin, Minnesota, Hormel married his college sweetheart, Alice McElroy Parker, and had five children before divorcing in 1965. He moved to San Francisco in 1977.

He was a former dean of students at the University of Chicago law school, where he received a degree.

Hormel co-founded the Human Rights Campaign and helped fund many activities geared to arts, education and human rights, including a gay and lesbian center at the San Francisco Public Library; the National AIDS Memorial Grove; the American Foundation for AIDS Research; and the American Conservatory Theater.

In addition to his husband, Hormel is survived by five children, 14 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

murders...
Associated Press

Renton man gets 10 years in prison in drug trafficking case

A federal judge has sentenced a Renton, Washington man to 10 years in prison for his role in a violent drug distribution ring, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle.
24 hours ago
FILE - Medical equipment and files lie damaged and looted by Eritrean soldiers at a hospital which ...
Associated Press

Kidnappings, looting cited in Ethiopia’s Tigray after truce

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Allies of Ethiopia’s federal military are looting property and carrying out mass detentions in Tigray, according to eyewitnesses and aid workers. The accounts raise fresh concern about alleged atrocities more than three weeks after the warring parties signed a truce that diplomats and others hoped would bring an end to suffering […]
24 hours ago
British designer Elizabeth Emanuel stands beside a replica of an evening gown she designed for the ...
Associated Press

Exploring a memory: Designer recreates a dress for Diana

LONDON (AP) — This is a dress with a story, and Elizabeth Emanuel wants to tell it. Shocking pink with a plunging, ruffled neckline and body-hugging shape, the gown was designed by Emanuel for Lady Diana Spencer to wear at a Buckingham Palace party a few days before her marriage to Prince Charles in 1981. […]
24 hours ago
FILE - People walk through the city center which lost electrical power after yesterday's Russian ro...
Associated Press

Hardship and hope: Winter, missile storms show Kyiv’s mettle

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The play finishes. The actors take their bows. Then they let loose with wartime patriotic zeal. “Glory to Ukraine!” they shout. “Glory to the heroes!” the audience yells back, leaping to its feet. The actors aren’t done. More yells follow, X-rated ones, cursing all things Russian and vowing that Ukraine will […]
24 hours ago
Two anti-riot police officers wave the Iranian flags during a street celebration after Iran defeate...
Associated Press

US soccer displays Iran flag minus Islamic Republic emblem

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The U.S. men’s soccer team has begun displaying Iran’s national flag on social media without the emblem of the Islamic Republic as nationwide protests challenging Tehran’s theocratic government continue. The Twitter account of the U.S. men’s team on Sunday displayed a banner with the squad’s matches in the group stage, with […]
24 hours ago
Associated Press

Police: 2 young children stabbed to death in Bronx apartment

NEW YORK (AP) — Two small children died of stab wounds after their mother was taken into custody for observation Saturday night in New York City, police said. A 3-year-old boy and an 11-month-old boy were found in a Bronx apartment with multiple stab wounds to the neck and torso and did not survive after […]
24 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
James Hormel, first openly gay U.S. ambassador, dies at 88