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Reform Jewish Leader Urges Prompt Consideration of Hormel Nomination

Saperstein: "It has become clear to all that the only reason James Hormel's nomination was blocked is because he is gay. We find such bigotry abhorrent and inconsistent with our fundamental values"

WASHINGTON, February 12, 1999--Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, has encouraged Sen. Jesse Helms, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott to provide for the expeditious consideration of James Hormel's nomination to be U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg.

"It has become clear to all that the only reason James Hormel's nomination was blocked is because he is gay," wrote Saperstein in a letter Wednesday to Sens. Helms and Lott. "We find such bigotry abhorrent and inconsistent with our fundamental values."

The full text of Rabbi Saperstein's letter follows:

On behalf of the 875 congregations of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), the 1,800 Rabbis of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), and the 1.5 million Reform Jews across the nation, I am writing to urge you to provide for the expeditious consideration of James Hormel's nomination to be U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg. While the UAHC and CCAR have long-standing policies precluding the support or opposition of presidential nominees in all but the most extreme cases, we believe all nominees, including Mr. Hormel, deserve to have their nominations fairly considered.

By any fair standard, Mr. Hormel appears to be a qualified candidate for ambassador. He has long been a philanthropist, civic leader, diplomat, and responsible member of the business community. Mr. Hormel's nomination has received wide bipartisan support, and national leaders-including more than 60 senators, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and former Secretary of State George Shultz-have all indicated their belief in Mr. Hormel's abilities and have voiced their confidence in his confirmation. Alphonse Berns, Luxembourg's Ambassador to the United States, has indicated that his country "would welcome Mr. Hormel" as ambassador.

As you know, despite this strong support, Mr. Hormel's nomination was not brought to a vote in the 105th Congress. It has become clear to all that the only reason James Hormel's nomination was blocked is because he is gay. We find such bigotry abhorrent and inconsistent with our fundamental values. Our tradition teaches us that God created humans b'tselem elohim , in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). The stamp of the divine is found in the souls of all God's children-gay, lesbian, and straight. Regardless of context, discrimination against any person arising from apathy, insensitivity, ignorance, fear, or hatred is inconsistent with this fundamental principle.

Whatever one thinks of the merits of Mr. Hormel's nomination, he deserves to have his nomination brought to the floor. I urge you to provide for the expeditious consideration of James Hormel's nomination in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and to do your best to bring Hormel's nomination to a Senate vote in the near future.

Sincerely,
/s/
Rabbi David Saperstein
Director

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews and 1,800 Reform rabbis in 875 congregations throughout North America.



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