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White House Criticizes Hormel Nix

October 21, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The White House criticized Republicans for killing the nomination of a gay ambassador Wednesday and said the administration is exploring options for a next step.

The nomination of James Hormel as U.S. envoy to Luxembourg died as the Senate went home for the year. Hormel, a gay San Francisco philanthropist, would have been the first openly gay ambassador.

``I think that it’s troubling that members of the Republican Party ... have made clear that someone’s sexual orientation is a disqualifier to serve as an ambassador,″ presidential spokesman Joe Lockhart said. ``To put it more simply, you can’t be an ambassador if you’re gay. I think that’s unacceptable.″

He said the White House would ``explore the options that are available to us and move forward when we think it’s appropriate.″

For example, he said Clinton could give Hormel a recess appointment or could renominate him in January when the new Congress takes office. Democratic officials also have suggested Clinton might find another post for Hormel.

A recess appointment would enable Hormel to bypass the nomination process and serve in a temporary capacity until a new Congress had a chance to act.

But such a move would likely anger congressional leaders and would not buy Hormel much time on the job.

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