Retiring Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank has questioned the sincerity of former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel's apology for comments he made in 1998 opposing James Hormel's nomination as U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg.

Hagel said Hormel was a bad fit because he's “openly, aggressively gay.”

Hagel, considered to be on President Barack Obama's short list for candidates to succeed Leon Panetta as secretary of defense, apologized for the comments last week.

“My comments 14 years ago in 1998 were insensitive,” Hagel said in a statement. “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.”

In an appearance on NBC's Meet The Press, Obama said he sees nothing which would disqualify Hagel from succeeding Panetta.

Frank disagreed with the president in a statement.

“Then-Senator Hagel’s aggressively bigoted opposition to President Clinton's naming the first openly gay Ambassador in U.S. history was not, as Sen. Hagel now claims, an aberration,” Frank said. “He voted consistently against fairness for LGBT people and there does not seem to be any evidence prior to his effort to become Secretary of Defense of any apology or retraction of his attack on James Hormel. And to those of us who admire and respect Mr. Hormel, Sen. Hagel’s description of him as aggressive can only mean that the Senator strongly objected to Hormel's reasoned, civil advocacy for LGBT people.”

“I cannot think of any other minority group in the U.S. today where such a negative statement and action made in 1998 would not be an obstacle to a major Presidential appointment.”

(Related : Chuck Hagel “wrong on gay rights,” gay GOP group says.)