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Sen. Nickles' comments confirm discrimination on Hormel vote

WASHINGTON -- Oklahoma Republican Senator Don Nickles latest comments confirm that anti-gay bias is the sole reason why the United States Senate has been denied the opportunity to vote on James Hormel's nomination to be U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg, according to the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay political organization.

"Mr. Hormel deserves a vote. Senator Nickles' and Senator Lott's comments clearly prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that discrimination is the only reason why the nomination is stalled. Mr. Hormel has the bipartisan support of more than sixty senators who reject the smear campaign being put forth by anti-gay activists," said HRC Political Director Winnie Stachelberg.

On "Fox News Sunday" Senator Nickles tried to justify his discrimination by saying of Mr. Hormel, "He has promoted a lifestyle and promoted it in a big way, in a way that is very offensive. One might have that lifestyle, but if one promotes it as acceptable behavior, I don't think they should be a representative of this country. I think it's immoral behavior and I think a lot of other behavior is immoral and shouldn't be treated as acceptable behavior."

"Senator Nickles is entitled to live his life and vote as his conscience dictates. However, he has no business in a free country dictating his conscience to other senators. To use his personal religious beliefs to deny due process and keep other senators from voting according to their beliefs is a mockery of democracy," said HRC Communications Director and Senior Strategist David M. Smith.

In Monday's edition of the New York Times, Luxembourg's Ambassador to the United States, Alphonse Berns, said, "We would welcome Mr. Hormel." Additionally, discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation is illegal in Luxembourg, as it is in all European Union countries.

This example of blatant discrimination has angered many senators, including prominent republicans. Last week, New York Senator Alfonse D'Amato sent an emphatic letter to the majority leader urging him to schedule an up or down vote on the nomination.

"I fear Mr. Hormel's nomination is being obstructed for one reason, and one reason only: the fact he is gay. In this day and age, when people ably serve our country in so many capacities without regard to sexual orientation, for the United States Senate to deny an appointment on that basis is simply wrong," stated Senator D'Amato in his letter.

Senator D'Amato also called for the Republican party to return to its core values of moderation and fairness.

"On a personal level, I am embarrassed that our Republican Party, the Party of Lincoln, is seen to be the force behind this injustice," said Senator D'Amato.

Lott's views were expressed on a conservative cable television show put into question Lott's assertion that he was not holding up the Hormel nomination simply because Hormel is gay. When asked whether or not homosexuality was a sin, Lott replied, "Yeah, it is. You should still love that person. You should try not to mistreat them as outcasts. You should show them a way to deal with that problem, just like alcohol addiction or sex. There are all kinds of problems, addictions, difficulties, experiences of things that are wrong, but you should try to work with that person to learn how to control that problem."

Hormel, a San Francisco businessman, is a prominent civic leader and former diplomat. He has served as alternate U.S. representative to the United Nations General Assembly and as a member of the U.S. delegation to the UN Human Rights Commission. Based on his superb qualifications, he has amassed a diverse array of supporters including senators Joe Biden (D-DE), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Gordon Smith (R-OR), 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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