June 5, 1999
Finally, Mr. Hormel Gets the Job
President Clinton took an appropriate stand against bigotry yesterday by giving James Hormel a recess appointment as the nation’s Ambassador to Luxembourg. Mr. Hormel’s nomination had been blocked for 20 months by a handful of Senate Republicans disturbed by his sexual orientation.
The credentials of Mr. Hormel, heir to a meat-packing fortune and a former dean at the University of Chicago Law School who has been active in civic, educational and political causes, were not the sticking point. There were sufficient Senate votes to confirm him had Trent Lott, the Senate majority leader, allowed a vote. But Mr. Hormel’s homosexuality did not sit well with Mr. Lott, who last year likened homosexuality to alcoholism, kleptomania and ”sex addiction.” Thus Mr. Lott was happy to go along with Senators James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Tim Hutchinson of Arkansas and Robert Smith of New Hampshire in preventing a vote on the floor. This unenlightened trio suggested that Mr. Hormel’s gay ”agenda” somehow threatened a collapse of Luxembourg’s moral standards.
Under the constitutional provision that allows Presidents to bypass the confirmation process when Congress is in recess, Mr. Hormel can remain as Ambassador until late next year. His shameful treatment by Mr. Lott and his G.O.P. colleagues will be remembered long beyond that.
June 5, 1999
Clinton Appoints Gay Man as Ambassador as Congress Is Away
by Katharine Q. Seelye
Over Republican objections, President Clinton today appointed James Hormel as Ambassador to Luxembourg, employing a rarely used executive privilege to make him the nation’s first openly gay envoy. Mr. Hormel, a San Francisco philanthropist and heir to a meat-packing fortune, was first nominated to the post by Mr. Clinton in October 1997. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the nomination, but Senate conservatives, led by the majority leader, Trent Lott of Mississippi, blocked it from a vote on the Senate floor. Mr. Clinton, who pledged months ago to gay advocacy groups that he was determined to make the appointment, did so today through a constitutional device available to the White House when Congress is in recess. Congress returns from its 10-day Memorial Day vacation on Monday.
Under the provisions of a so-called recess appointment, Mr. Hormel, 65, could remain in the job until the end of the next session of Congress, probably in October of next year, effectively installing him through the duration of the Clinton Administration. White House officials said Mr. Clinton had decided to use the recess appointment when it was clear that all public and private strategies for a vote had failed. Mr. Lott, who has said homosexuals are sinners, like alcoholics or kleptomaniacs, said through a spokesman today that he opposed the appointment.
”Senator Lott opposes the nomination of someone who has supported an extremist, anti-Catholic group to represent the United States,” said the spokesman, John S. Czwartacki. ”Mr. Hormel’s refusal to condemn this brand of religious intolerance makes his appointment by the Clinton-Gore Administration a slap in the face to Catholics everywhere.” He was referring to Mr. Hormel’s refusal to condemn the activities of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a San Francisco acting troupe featuring men who wear nuns’ habits. Luxembourg is 99 percent Catholic. Marc Thiessen, a spokesman for Senator Jesse Helms, the North Carolina Republican who is chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said Mr. Clinton’s move was intended for political gain.
”It shows the President’s contempt for the constitutional process, No. 1,” Mr. Thiessen said. ”This is an effort to get political gain out of certain Presidential constituencies.”
Conservative and religious groups also expressed outrage.
”Clinton does unpopular things in sneaky ways,” said Robert Knight, a spokesman for the Family Research Council. ”This appointment was not going to fly, so he imposed it on the country. And it means that he’s using this nation to make the case to the world for sodomy and adultery.”
David M. Smith, a strategist for the Human Rights Campaign, a gay advocacy group, rejected the suggestion that Mr. Clinton had acted purely for political gain or to benefit his political heirs, Vice President Gore, who is running for President, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is likely to run for the Senate from New York. ”He wanted to make a very strong statement that this type of discrimination was not going to be tolerated,” Mr. Smith said. Richard Socarides, who oversees gay and lesbian issues for the White House, said Mr. Gore and Mrs. Clinton would probably do well with gay and lesbian voters anyway. Mrs. Clinton is participating in a private fund-raising dinner on Wednesday night in New York for gay men and lesbians sponsored by the Democratic National Committee.
February 18, 2009
Luxembourg Could Become Sixth Country to Recognise IDAHO
Motion tabled in Luxembourg Parliament by Green Party MP Jean Huss
Luxembourg – Luxembourg could become the latest country to recognise International Day Against Homophobia, held each year on May 17 – the day when in 1990 the World Health Organization decided to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. Today, Jean Huss, a Member of Parliament in Luxembourg introduced a motion to recognise IDAHO as part of the country’s official calendar. The motion will be discussed at the Parliament between the political groups and a vote is expected to take place by the end of April. The day is already officially recognised by the European Parliament, and several countries like Belgium, United Kingdom, France, Mexico and Costa Rica, and more than 50 countries around the world contribute to make this event a success.
“Despite the principle of equality of human rights included in the Constitution of Luxembourg, this is not sufficient to protect LGBT persons against discrimination in their private, social and professional life,” said Jean Huss, a member of Déi Gréng (the Green Party of Luxembourg). “Through official campaigns, we need to inform and raise awareness within the population. The participation of Luxembourg to the IDAHO can be a first step towards the respect of sexual orientation of any person” added Mr Huss.
“The International Day Against Homophobia denounces homophobic behaviour which can exist in Luxembourg,” said François Diderrich, president of Rosa Lëtzebuerg, co-ordinator of IDAHO for Luxembourg. “Fortunately, [homophobic behaviour in Luxembourg] is less frequent and less violent than elsewhere in the world where too many countries still criminalise homosexuality – and sometimes even kill homosexuals. Let’s at least show our solidarity by officially declaring May 17 as the official day against homophobia,” he added.
Louis-Georges Tin, founder and President of the IDAHO Committee said thanked Mr. Huss for introducing the motion in Parliament. “This recognition, if it is approved, will be a symbolical and political tool to fight against homophobia and transphobia, not only in Luxembourg but also in the world. We hope that many more countries will follow the example of Luxembourg,” Mr Tin added.
Nikolai Alekseev, from the organising committee of Moscow Gay Pride and IDAHO co-ordinator in Russia, pointed out that Mr Huss has been a strong supporter of LGBT Human Rights in Russia. “We thank him for his commitment to IDAHO. We are proud that we could work and be part of this achievement in Luxembourg.”