"I learned in the civil rights era that nobody gives you anything - you have to fight for it. The same is true of our effort today to bring equality to all Americans."
Jim Hormel is a philanthropist and community leader who was the first openly gay United States Ambassador.
In 1992 when Jim Hormel sought to become a United States Ambassador, he had no idea it would take seven years and a bruising political battle to achieve his goal. Ironically, he had enough votes from both Democrats and Republicans to win confirmation, but three anti-gay Senators repeatedly blocked his nomination from coming to a vote. At the same time, special interests launched a slanderous public campaign against him. The Senate never voted, but President Clinton made Hormel U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg in a 1999 recess appointment.
Following Hormel's appointment, the State Department made major revisions to its regulations, including measures that for the first time allowed gay Foreign Service officers to bring their partners on overseas assignments.
Jim Hormel was born in Austin, Minnesota on January 1, 1933. He graduated from Swarthmore College and now serves on its Board of Managers. He earned a JD degree from the University of Chicago Law School and later served as its Assistant Dean and Dean of Students.
Hormel served as a U.S. delegate to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 1995 and to the United Nations General Assembly in 1996. He has also been active in Democratic politics and has served several times as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. Hormel sits on the boards of several national and Bay Area (California) political and cultural institutions. He is chairman of Equidex, Inc., a family-run investment firm.
Hormel's philanthropy and activism center on promoting human rights and equality. In 1995, he established the James C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center at the new San Francisco Main Public Library, which houses one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of GLBTQ literature.
- Rich, Frank, "Journal: All in the Family," The New York Times, April 18, 1998.
- Robins, Cynthia, "Gentleman Jim," The San Francisco Examiner, June 16, 1996.
- State Department Web Site