Former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel's
possible nomination to succeed Leon Panetta as secretary of defense
is being haunted by anti-gay comments he made in the late 1990s.
BuzzFeed.com and The New York Times
reported that in 1998 Hagel opposed James Hormel's nomination as U.S.
ambassador to Luxembourg, saying he was a bad fit because he's
“openly, aggressively gay.”
“Ambassadorial posts are sensitive,”
Hagel, a Republican, told the Omaha World-Herald. “They are
representing America. They are representing our lifestyle, our
values, our standards. And I think it is an inhibiting factor to be
gay – openly, aggressively gay like Mr. Hormel – to do an
President Bill Clinton used a recess
appointment to place Hormel in the the post after conservatives in
the Senate blocked his nomination.
Denis Dison, vice president of
communications at the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, a group which
supports openly LGBT elected officials, said bureaucrats “who are
still openly, aggressively anti-gay in 2012 probably won't be able to
function very well in Washington.”
“Today openly LGBT Americans serve
throughout the three branches of the federal government, and at very
high levels,” Dison told BuzzFeed.com.
Hagel in 1999 told The
New York Times that he opposed repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't
Tell” because “the U.S. armed forces aren't some social
Chad Griffin, president of the Human
Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest gay rights advocate,
called on Hagel to repudiate his comments about Hormel.
Hormel, first gay ambassador, calls DOMA 'heinous legislation.')