President Obama has formally nominated former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel as the next Defense Secretary despite objections by many LGBT advocates because of Hagel’s past comments on Iran, Israel and gay people.
In June 1999, President Bill Clinton named Jim Hormel Ambassador to Luxembourg. But Hormel’s selection caused a firestorm. The first openly gay person to be appointed to an ambassadorship, Hormel was (and remains to this day) a major benefactor of gay causes, ranging from pro-marriage equality campaigns to an organization providing care to gay seniors. Senate Republicans tried to block Hormel solely because of his sexual orientation.
One of the more vocal senators to oppose the Hormel nomination was then-Nebraska Republican Chuck Hagel.
“They are representing our lifestyle, our values, our standards,” he told the Omaha World Herald in 1998. “And I think it is an inhibiting factor to be gay — openly aggressively gay like Mr. Hormel — to do an effective job.”
Also over the course of his 12-year career as a Republican Senator, Hagel racked up a virtually 0% voting record on LGBT issues (his only positive vote being for AIDS funding to Africa, not necessarily even a gay issue) and he was a vociferous supporter of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the military’s erstwhile gay ban.
Earlier this month, when Hagel’s past anti-gay views came to light, Hagel issued a an apology for his remarks about Hormel, saying that his comments were “insensitive” and insisting that he now supports open service. Interviewed by the Washington Post, Hormel said that he had received no personal message from Hagel, and that the former senator’s “so-called apology . . . had the air of being a defensive move on his part only in service of his attempt to get the nomination.” and many agree with him. Except for President Obama that is who came to Hagel’s defense and said that Hagel’s apology shows a “positive change,” and “evolution”
While it’is true that people’s views about social issues do change if indeed Hagel’s real attitudes have progressed, there is no evidence of it to indicate it. Hagel had 14 years in which to express contrition — publicly or privately show it. Instead his”magical evolutionary moment” came directly after his nomination and his anti-gay attitudes came to light.
As for President Obama, our “fierce advocate” this is the second time in a matter of weeks that he has shown blatant disregard for the LGBT Community. Earlier this week Obama signed the funding authorization bill for the Department of Defense which includes “protections” against the punishment of military members and clergy who harass gay soldiers.
And while the Human Rights Campaign and Gay Inc. continue resist using pressure on the Democratic Party and President Obama,because they don’t want to come off as “pushy” and “ungrateful” since his election Obama has continued to insist that marriage is a “state issue”, has REFUSED to enact ENDA protections for LGBT Federal contractor Workers through executive order (Which has Presidential precedent. Johnson did the same in 1963 for black Americans as a pre-cursor to the 1964 Civil Rights Act). And Obama has not DIRECTLY challenged DOMA or ENDA and effectively used the Presidential bully pulpit. And now on top of everything President Obama is nominating A KNOWN ANTI-GAY BIGOT to be Secretary of Defense. And we are suppossed to be alright with it.
And what of the Human Rights Campaign “America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality” think of Chuck Hagel’s nomination.
“Senator Hagel’s apology and his statement of support for LGBT equality is appreciated and shows just how far as a country we have come when a conservative former Senator from Nebraska can have a change of heart on LGBT issues. Our community continues to add allies to our ranks and we’re proud that Senator Hagel is one of them“ – HRC President Chad Griffin