As more and more politicians announce their support for same-sex marriage, they and the nation must grapple with uncomfortable statements they made not so long ago.
Nineteen ninety-eight was a watershed year in the battle for gay rights in America -- in a bad way. Bill Clinton had in 1997 nominated James C. Hormel as ambassador to Luxembourg. But his nomination as the first openly gay U.S. ambassador stalled the following summer. Hormel, born during the early 1930s, had been a dean at the University of Chicago Law School and also a leader in creating gay institutions in his home town of San Francisco. In 1991, he endowed the Gay and Lesbian Center at the San Francisco Public Library, which would go on to bear his name when it opened.
His nomination snagged on the Republican leadership in Congress, then busily seeking President Clinton's impeachment over his affair with Monica Lewinsky. An even bigger obstacle was their disgust over Hormel's homosexuality.