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JUNE 9, 1999  2:55 PM
Human Rights Campaign
HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch Comdemns Tantrum By Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe Over Hormel Recess Appointment
WASHINGTON - June 9 - HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch today condemned Sen. James M. Inhofe, R-Okla., for blocking all future Clinton administration nominations because he is upset over the recess appointment of openly gay philanthropist James C. Hormel as Ambassador to Luxembourg. Inhofe's churlish tirade and spectacular display of anti-gay discrimination underscores that raw prejudice was the sole reason Hormel wasn't confirmed, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

"Inhofe's temper tantrum is an embarrassment and indicative of the thinly veiled anti-gay discrimination that kept James Hormel from getting confirmed," said HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch. "The Senate's role in the confirmation process is to advise and consent. The framers of the Constitution never saw the process as a means in which to derail qualified nominees based on prejudice. Furthermore, Senator Inhofe does not seem to understand that there isn't a Constitutional right to place a hold on nominations."

Inhofe attacked the June 4 recess appointment of Hormel with a blistering statement released yesterday. According to Inhofe, "President Clinton has shown contempt for Congress and the Constitution. He has treated the Senate confirmation process as little more than a nuisance which he can circumvent whenever he wants to impose his will on the country."

"There is great irony in Senator Inhofe's rhetoric considering he had no qualms about placing a hold on the nomination and denying more that 60 senators the opportunity to vote their consciences and confirm Hormel," said Birch.

Despite Inhofe's indignation and anger at Clinton over the recess appointment, the President has been far less likely than past presidents to exercise this executive power. To date, Clinton has made only 57 recess appointments, compared to 78 for President George Bush over four years and 239 for President Ronald Reagan over eight years.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss, who also opposed Hormel's nomination and used his leadership position to keep it from coming to a vote, indicated he would not allow Inhofe to unilaterally place a hold on all nominations. According to Lott, "as far as doing it indefinitely, that would not be my inclination."

Clinton nominated Hormel in 1997 to serve as U. S. ambassador to Luxembourg. The nomination was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last fall but had been stalled by several senators who raised objections to his support for lesbian and gay equal rights. The right- wing campaign to stop Hormel's nomination was led by Sens. James Inhofe, R-Okla., Bob Smith, R-N.H., and Tim Hutchison, R-Ark.

The battle for Hormel's confirmation sometimes took unfortunate turns as right-wing senators took extreme and erratic stances to justify their anti-gay discrimination, according to HRC. In the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, Inhofe went as far as to compare Hormel, to former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke.

Hormel is a prominent civic leader and former diplomat. He served as an alternate U.S. representative to the United Nations General Assembly and as a member of the U.S. delegation to the U.N. Human Rights Commission. His supporters include Sens. Joe Biden, D-Del.; Orrin Hatch, R-Utah; Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; as well as Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Reagan administration Secretary of State George Shultz.

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian and gay political organization, with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support, and educates the public to ensure that lesbian and gay Americans can be open, honest, and safe at home, at work, and in the community.


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