The President’s Choice: Hagel Appears to do a 360 on Gay Issues


It appears though that either President Obama’s pick for the next defense secretary has either done some “evolving” or  he desperately wants a job.

Fourteen years ago, Chuck Hagel, a Republican and former senator from Nebraska, made some pretty despicable marks regarding the appointment of  ambassadorial nominee James C. Hormel.

According to Buzzfeed,”In a 1998 Omaha World Herald article recently published online, Hagel detailed his objection to Hormel’s nomination, saying he was concerned that Hormel had aligned himself with a group he considered “anti-Catholic,” and asserted that being gay was “beyond common sense.”

In December, Hagel issued a strongly worded apology for the Hormel comment,”My comments 14 years ago in 1998 were insensitive. They do not reflect my views or the totality of my public record, and I apologize to Ambassador Hormel and any LGBT Americans who may question my commitment to their civil rights. I am fully supportive of ‘open service’ and committed to LGBT military families,” Hagel wrote.

Earlier this week the nominee gained the support of New York Senator Charles Schumer and California Senator Barbara Boxer, both key democrats.

In an open letter to Boxer, Hagel writes that  he  now fully supports the 2010 repeal of  “don’t ask, don’t tell”, “I know first hand the profound sacrifice our service members and their families make, If confirmed as secretary of defense, I will do everything possible to the extent permissible under law to provide equal benefits to families of all our service members.”

Hagel also wrote that he “will fully implement all laws protecting women service member’s reproductive rights,” a big concern for Boxer, since Hagel had voted against providing abortion access to service members when he was in the Senate.

Still, Hagel hasn’t managed to convince everybody. Huffington Post reports that Log Cabin Republicans contend his apparent 360 may not go far enough, “While Senator Hagel’s recent professed support for gay military families is encouraging, it stands at odds with his record of opposition to the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and his broader record of opposition to equality for gay and lesbian Americans, We look forward to the confirmation hearings when the Senator will be able to explain his apparent epiphany in greater detail. We continue to remain cautious about his nomination until that time,” Gregory T. Angelo, the Log Cabin’s interim executive director told the news blog on Tuesday.

Only time, and the upcoming senate confirmation hearings, will tell if Hagel’s change is sincere. If the current winds of equality continue at their current cyclone-like pace,  however, it’s a safe bet that we are going to see a whole heck of a lot more politicians finding themselves caught up in similar evolutionary storms.

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