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Senate Confirms Gay Man to SBA Job

May 22, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Senate confirmed a gay businessman to be deputy director of the Small Business Administration on Friday, but a battle continued over the stalled ambassadorial nomination of James Hormel, who is also homosexual.

By voice vote, the Senate approved Fred Hochberg, who has headed an investment firm and was president and chief operating officer of the Lillian Vernon Corp., a direct marketing company. He is also a former co-chairman of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay and lesbian political organization.

That group called his approval ``a demonstration of fairness and bipartisanship,″ and urged Republicans to treat Hormel the same way.

Republicans said Hochberg’s confirmation showed that the GOP was not blocking Hormel because of his homosexuality. They have said their opposition to Hormel is based on what they describe as his aggressive pursuit of a gay political agenda.

Sen. John Kerrey, D-Mass., a supporter of Hochberg, said that while Republicans closely scrutinized his fund-raising activities for the Democratic Party, his sexual orientation was never an issue.

``Fred’s confirmation is a clear sign of progress, but great work remains to be done,″ Kerrey said in a statement.

Clinton nominated Hormel, a 64-year-old San Francisco philanthropist and Democratic Party donor, last year to be ambassador to Luxembourg. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent the nomination to the floor in November, where it has been stalled ever since.

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