In 1998, former senator Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) made anti-gay remarks towards the appointment of James Hormel, the nations first openly gay ambassador to Luxembourg. Now, almost 15 years later, Hagel is looking for the possible appointment to be Secretary of Defense, replacing Leon Panetta. Today he apologizes for those remarks.
James Hormel, the target of an 1998 anti-gay comment made by former Senator Chuck Hagel, dismissed Hagel's apology Friday as political opportunism.
"I have not received an apology," Hormel, a gay rights philanthropist and the former Ambassador to Luxembourg, said. "I thought this so-called apology, which I haven't received, but which was made public, had the air of being a defensive move on his part."
Hormel, who spoke with the Washington Post's Greg Sargent, said he though the apology was "only in service of his attempt to get the nomination."
Former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) has emerged as President Obama's likely choice to replace Leon Panetta as Secretary of Defense, but 15-year-old comments about gay people in the military or foreign service have LGBT groups criticizing his nomination.
Friday, Hagel made a statement apologizing for disparaging an ambassador for being gay.
"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 called President Bill Clinton's nomination Ambassador to Luxembourg James C. Hormel, "openly aggressively gay" in comments to the Omaha World-Herald in 1998.
"They are representing America," Hagel told the World-Hearld. "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 effective job.”
The next year, he responded to an attempt by gay rights advocates to undo "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the law that prevented gay people from openly serving the in the military.
"The U.S. armed forces aren't some social experiment," he told the New York Times in 1999.
Hagel's potential nomination as Secretary of Defense has already garnered pushback from gay rights groups. Link
So it took 15 years for Chuck Hagel to progress and have a "change of heart" towards gay men and women serving in the United States. Seems rather convenient to issue his "heartfelt" apology at this appointed time when his name appears on the shortlist for the prime position of Secretary of Defense. Prior to this appointment, Hagel has taken many anti-gay stance and an opposition to lgbt advancement in his political career.
My take - this is a self serving apology. Its quite transparent. There is no sincerity in his apology based on Hagel's history. Hagel is an opportunist and today is pulling a Mitt Romney - say and do anything to get the position. Also, one wonders if Hagel would even apologized if not for the fact that Dianne Feinstein is a personal friend of Tom Hormel and is on the Senate Intelligence Committee that will certainly vet this appointment.
I do hope President Obama takes Hagel's anti-gay history to heart as Hagel is obviously being considered for the position. This country just overturned DADT and Republicans are known to not learn from the failures of history but will repeat it.