Hagel: Sorry About Insulting Gays. Can I Be Defense Secretary Now?

chuck hagelAs his name moves up the list for secretary of defense, former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel issued an apology today for homophobic remarks he made in a 1998 newspaper interview.

At the time, Hagel was attacking the nomination of James Hormel as be ambassador to Luxembourg, because Hormel was “aggressively gay.”

“[Diplomats] are representing America,” Hagel told The Omaha World-Herald at the time. “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.”

Now, nearly 20 years later, as the job of a lifetime is dangling before him, Hagel suddenly realized he was a jerk: “My comments 14 years ago in 1998 were insensitive,” Hagel, co-chair of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, 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.”

They don’t reflect your views? Homophobia aside, do we want a guy who admits his comments don’t reflect his opinions in a high-powered cabinet post? Isn’t that aggressively stupid?

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  • MikeE

    Are you being purposefully obtuse?

    He says that those comments – made 15 years ago – do not reflect his views – ie: NOW.

    Trying to imply that he doesn’t say what he means, or mean what he says, is just stupid on your part.

    How about seeing just how much his views have changed in that time?

  • ChiChi Man

    I long for and will applaud the day when conservatives admit they’ve been wrong on LGBT issues. But I also think a mere apology is B.S. when you’ve spewed particularly hateful and demonizing rhetoric. What about making amends? What has he done to support and uplift the LGBT community lately?

  • Mr. Enemabag Jones


    How about seeing just how much his views have changed in that time?

    To do this, one simply needs to look over his voting record. Not surprisingly, nothing has changed.

  • MK Ultra

    Redemntion and forgiveness are two incredibly powerful concepts that are in no way restricted to religion. It’s a humanity thing. There are those who have hurt our community terribly and now seek redemtion. It will be a very long time before our community can even think of forgiveness. But if we refuse to even entertain the thought for those who are sincere in making it right, if we allow ourselves to become so embittered and jaded, then our enemies, those who would seen harm done to us and ours, have truly won.
    I’m not saying forgive this guy or forget. I’m saying see what he does in regards to LGBT issues and go from there.

  • Merv

    Do I forgive him? Yes, and for one reason only: The neo-cons despise him. We can’t afford to let AIPAC dictate our defense policy, or we’ll end up with more Iraq wars.

  • DannyA

    What is aggressively stupid is his 14 year learning curve and the ignorance that gays in Europe often are treated more fairly and have rights American gays are still anticipating. His apology seems hollow and simply a token to get his dream job.

  • Someguy

    Let’s try to make more of an issue out of this. Surely there’s more.

  • gaym50ish

    Are you all just too young to remember that his opinion was mainstream 15 years ago? Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act, and now supports gay marriage. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed TWO gay-marriage bills in California and eventually applauded the court that struck down Proposition 8. Barack Obama’s viewe had to “evolve” for a few years before he supported marriage equality.

    We have only a 10-year history of gay marriage anywhere in the world — the Netherlands being the first — and opinions in the U.S. about gays back then were much like those in some Third World countries today. That a politician in 1998 didn’t think a gay man should serve as an ambassador does not mean he should be branded as a homophobe for life.

  • unclemike

    @MikeE: Might be nice if he actually, you know, apologized *to* James Hormel in person, rather than just to the public in general. But conservatives aren’t known for their sincere apologies.

  • FStratford

    Well, he can always say he has learned that he is wrong and has evolved. It worked for Barack. Maybe he can promise to champion Gay marriage in Nebraska

  • Out Military

    A year later in 1999, Hagel told the New York Times when describing his enthusiastic support of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – the discriminatory policy that banned gays and lesbians from serving in the military:

    “The armed forces aren’t some social experiment.”

    While no Sec Def nominee will pass every test, LGB(T) service members should take pause and at least ask the question: Does Chuck Hagel have an aversion to my sexuality?

  • Will L

    Over the years, he may have learned not to *vocalize* such comments, but I have serious doubts that he has miraculously changed inside. Unless he’s gone through some serious life-changing event, he’s the same butthead he was in 1998.

  • Brian

    Hagel comes across as one of those people who gets caught out on something he said years back and then tries to go into damage control because the comment might affect his career prospects. It just seems like a very fake apology on his part right now. Has he actually apologized personally to Hormel?

    The other thing I don’t like about Hagel are his alleged comments about the armed forces not being a social experiment re DADT repeal. He most definitely does NOT come across as a friend of gay people and nor does he come across as someone who treats gay people as equals in America.

  • JohnQPublic

    Wake up, it’s the Israeli lobby, AIPAC among others, and their puppets in Congress, that are behind all this BS about something Hagel said 14 years ago about gays.Let’s hope that President Obama doesn’t pull the same wuss act he did with Rice. The Israelis tried to defeat Obama in NOvember and having failed,now they’re trying to sabotage his second term.

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