Biden on Friday reflected on the passing of James Hormel, the first
openly gay person to serve as a United States ambassador.
Bill Clinton in 1997 appointed Hormel as U.S. ambassador to
Luxembourg. Conservatives in the Senate blocked Hormel's confirmation
because of his sexual orientation. In 1999, Clinton bypassed the
Senate and installed Hormel as ambassador to Luxembourg via a recess
Hormel, also a
prolific philanthropist, died Friday at the age of 88.
“I am proud that
my Administration is staffed by incredible LGBTQ+ public servants at
all levels, including in my Cabinet and nominees for Ambassador-level
appointments,” Biden said in a statement. “Ambassador Hormel’s
bravery paved the way for all of them to serve, just as he hoped it
“I remember well
the historic fight for his appointment, and I was proud to support
his confirmation,” Biden said. “He helped shine a national
spotlight on the truth that no LGBTQ+ individual should be denied
their basic human rights, and that the United States should be the
global leader in that fight.”
Hormel, an heir to
Hormel Foods, helped found the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest LGBT rights organization. He was also known for his
HIV advocacy work.
“Jim Hormel was
a giant in the movement for LGBTQ+ equality,” HRC President
Alphonso David said in a statement. “He was a history-making and
barrier-breaking diplomat who showed future generations of LGBTQ+
young people that there is no limit to what they can achieve. Jim
also understood the power of his platform and the importance of
organizing to make change.”
in helping to found the Human Rights Campaign and his dedication to
ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic ensure that the contributions he made
will ripple out for years and decades to come. He was a tremendously
valued member of the Human Rights Campaign community and his memory
will live on at this organization and others that have made up his
life’s work. Our hearts are with Jim’s husband, family and
friends as we collectively mourn the loss of such a profound advocate
and celebrate his decorated and impactful life,” David said.
Hormel is survived
by his husband Michael and his children Alison, Anne, Elizabeth,
James Jr., and Sarah.