Why Did The Log Cabin Republicans Go After Chuck Hagel, And What Was The Fallout?

hagel-times-adLast week, the Log Cabin Republicans took out a full-page ad in the New York Times, blasting potential Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel for being “wrong on gay rights, wrong on Iran, [and] wrong on Israel.”

At about the same time, the LCR sent out a press release announcing current national director R. Clarke Cooper was stepping down and an interim replacement, Gregory T. Angelo, was taking over this month.

As the New Year’s confetti clears, though, questions are being raised about the group’s motivation for the ad, where the funds to pay for it came from, and whether Cooper’s departure was in any way connected.

In the Guardian, columnist Glenn Greenwald posits:

Full-page ads in the NYT are notoriously expensive, particularly for a small, poorly-funded group like LCR; published rates indicate that such an ad can cost well in excess of $100,000, though some discounts are possible with flexible dates (five years ago, the published rate for a black-and-white full-page political ad was $142,000).

Cooper says the Times ad was paid for by donors, not out of LCR’s existing budget, but won’t ‘fess up about who cut the check: “LCR developed the ad first and then found funding by ‘passing the hat’ to a variety of supporters,” he said in a statement to to Daily Beast columnist Andrew Sullivan.

The theory is that pro-Israel interest groups funded the ad, to attack a political enemy with an unrelated accusation. In addition to complaining that “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people,” in Congress, Hagel hasn’t been shy about criticizing Israeli policy.

But Cooper says LCR is concerned about Sen Hagel’s potential nomination “because of the role he would play in  continuing to oversee the implementation of open service of the military.” Haven’t Mitt Rommney and John McCainbeen worse on LGBT issues—and opposed the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell? And the Log Cabin Republicans went to bat for both of them.

R. Clarke Cooper
R. Clarke Cooper

In the letter to Andrew Sullivan, Cooper admits it’s not just about gay rights:

It is Chuck Hagel’s weak record on preventing nuclear proliferation in Iran, lack of confidence in our ally Israel as well as an aggressive history against the LGBT community that is a negative combination for a Secretary of Defense nominee.

While he may have recently apologized for his anti-gay comments to save his possible nomination, Hagel cannot walk away from his consistent record against economic sanctions to try to change the behavior of the Islamist radical regime in Tehran. To use an US Army colloquial term, he is a “No Go” for the cabinet post.

LCR has a long history of showing support for our ally Israel and questioning those who would be soft on Iran. While it may surprise some to see LCR taking out a major ad in the New York Times, it’s part of a broader communications strategy that LCR and its board have been developing over the last year.”

Okay, here’s another explanation that’s been suggested: As rank-and-file Republicans, the Log Cabinites just want to torpedo anyone President Obama is going to nominate. As one Queerty commenter posited, if Hagel was running for Congress again, “they’d be fine with him.”

But what about Cooper’s sudden departure from the Log Cabin Republicans? He’s held the post for more than two years, so it’s not clear if he was ousted or wanted to explore new opportunities.

Just weeks before the ad came out in the Times, Cooper was praising Hagel to Gay City News:

“I recall working with Senator Chuck Hagel and his staff during the Bush administration and he was certainly not shy about expressing his criticisms. But despite his criticisms, Hagel voted with us most of the time and there was no question he was committed to advancing America’s interests abroad.

As for his nomination to be secretary of defense, it is well worth noting that Senator Hagel is a combat veteran who has hands-on experience in the field. The battlefield is not just theory for him.”

Was Cooper shuffled out for not towing the party line? Did he leave because he was unhappy with the group’s agenda?

Whatever the case, it appears Hagel’s chances of getting a cabinet post have sunk like a stone. Politico’s Mike Allen says Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy are the new leading candidates.

What do you think? Was Hagel a bad choice for Defense all along or were his alleged “sins” overblown for political reasons?


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  • Harley

    It’s funny that LCR call themselves a “gay” organization when gay rights are the furthest from their agenda. Their main concern is passing on the bigotry of the Republican Party. Would women’s suffrage have happened if it had been put to a ballot initiative? Would the emancipation proclamation? Would integration of the military or the ability to marry outside your race or religion? The conservative agenda has ALWAYS been on the wrong side of history and the LCR is a drag to gay rights. We should drop the anchor and let them sink into the bowels of history. They are nothing but an organization being used now by right wing bigots in order to hide who they are in order to spread hatred and bigotry . COWARDS!!!!!!

  • curan

    First of all, I will agree that the LCR is capable of incredible moral gymnastics in their support for the Republican party. I am a fiscal conservative myself; I have no debt, and I would like to vote for people who would balance the budget and pay off the debt.

    However, voting for Republicans over the last decade has not produced any fiscal responsibility, and fiscal conservatives now find themselves strangely longing for Clinton. Adding this consistent failure to the unreasonable hatred that evangelical conservatives have for anyone (who, through no fault of their own) is gay, leaves us with a party that deserved to lose.

    Republicans have not always been such purveyors of “moral filth” – this is, after all, the party of emancipation. However, Republicans have not acted in a forward-thinking way on civil rights within my lifetime, and I see no reason to reward their incompetence with political power.

  • brent

    @Harley: COWARD You call someone a coward who is out of the closet with both his sexuality and his politics. I used to call that gutsy.Besides they have been right the ballot box approach is working.They were also right to sue to repeal DODT. You could use the word coward to describe Barney Frank, who in elections past has refused to speak out against homophobia in black and latino communities. Now that minorities seem to support gay marriage he is all willing to take credit. COWARD FRANK1 I would also be curious to know if the real reason you hate the log cabins is because they don’t agree with you on econonmics, oil, environment etc.

  • MikeE

    QUEERTY editors: the expression is “toe the party line”, not “tow” it. You’re not dragging the party line behind you. You are standing at attention, with your toes up against it.

  • 2eo

    @Harley: Well said Harley, people like Brent truly are cowardly and pathetic, and small. They are doing everything except help their fellow people, resorting to self loathing begging for acceptance from people who want them executed.

    How pathetic people like Brent still exist in 2013.

  • DuMaurier

    @Harley: I’m very far from endorsing the LCR, but just a quibble here: in fact, prior to the passage of the 19th Amendment, women’s suffrage WAS put on the ballot in many states, and that’s how it got passed at that level in many places. Obviously, the amendment was needed to make it national, but I think most historians would agree that establishing it state by state at first paved the way for getting it into the U.S. Constitution.

  • Joel J

    To answer Queerty’s question, Hagel’s “sins” are overblown for political reasons and I hope Hagel is given the opportunity to clarify his statements on these issues in a nomination hearing. LCR is playing into the Israeli lobby’s most aggressive tactic: label any criticism of Israel’s policies as “anti-semitic,” except that in the case of Hagel it is “anti-gay.” Hagel does not buy into the neocon worldview and that is a problem for LCR and their financial supporters.

  • Cam

    Was Cooper shuffled out for not towing the party line? Did he leave because he was unhappy with the group’s agenda?”

    Cooper would not have left without being forced out because he doesn’t have a new job. Here is my 2cents.

    Log cabin’s board realized that the group was on it’s deathbed because of Cooper’s favoring shilling for the GOP and trying to cover or explain away their anti-gay stances rather than calling them out. The group under him endorced many anti-gay politicians and cheered the defeat of Iraq War Vet Patrick Murphy who introduced the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

    The former head of Log Cabin, when it was at it’s height used to withold endorsements from politicians seen as anti-gay. Cooper not only didn’t do that, but attempted to claim that there was no difference in the anti-gay politicians he endorsed and the pro gay ones.

    The group saw it’s relevence and it’s fundraising tank. They may have realized that supporting traditional GOP ideals was different from defending gay hating bigots. They asked Cooper to leave and are using the ad as a signal that perhaps they are moving back to their old ways.

    Either that, or they have completely gone off the rails and gay issues are no longer relevent to their mission except as an excuse to attack those they don’t feel are toeing the party line.

    Take your pick.

  • Kieran

    Chuck Hagel is one of the few Republicans today who isn’t a crazy War-monger. Hagel is one of the few Republicans who has apologized to the American people for supporting Dumbya Bush’s Iraq War disaster. He has made it clear that he supports negotiations with Iran rather than launching another trillion dollar War. He has apologized for a homophobic comment he made 15 Years ago saying his views have changed since. He isn’t an irresponsible neocon nut who thinks every Arab and Muslim country who sees Israel as an enemy should automatically be deemed an enemy of the US.

    The Log Cabin morons refuse to reveal who funded the full page NY Times ad attacking Chuck Hagel. Why?

  • Jean

    Hagel’s troglodyte record on gay rights is still an issue even though President Obama finds it very inconvenient as he would like to nominate Hagel tomorrow.

    Even more of an issue is Hagel’s silence about equal benefits for gay military families.

    I hope the President will not risk the political cost of loosing the confirmation battle on this terrible choice.

    It’s not only about what he said many years ago, but that he has not come out for any specific or general commitment to equality for gay military families.

    There are many ways a Secretary of Defense could help gay military families no matter how DOMA is decided and Hagel has not come out in favor of any of these.

    Reports to the contrary, LGBT equality is not yet a done deal in the military. There is still the matter of partner benefits. There still remain a handful of regulations that could be revised independent of the Defense of Marriage act that could bring some equity of compensation and benefits to gay and lesbian service members. but remain denied due only to Department of Defense foot-dragging:

    Included in the discretionary benefits currently denied are spousal identifcation cards, and shopping at the PX the former cited in the Pentagon’s own Working Group study as not requiring DOMA repeal to deliver.

    There are many other issues that make Hagel a poor choice.

  • gjg64

    It seems to me that LCR is tacking to the far right to compete with GOProud. The whole thing stinks of Neo-Con politics……destroy Iran and kiss up to Israel no matter what they do. And before anyone calls me an anti-Semite, it’s Bibi and the Russians in Israel I don’t like…..he needs to stop trying to tell us how to run our foreign policy, especially when they don’t provide us with aid.

    If the LCR was so concerned with gay rights then why did they endorse Romney (even as a “qualified endorsement”).

  • 2eo

    @gjg64: You don’t have to preface criticism of the machinations of Israel with noting you’re not anti-semitic.

    The sad thing is they are winning that battle, forcing legitimate criticism of their state as hatred of jews and the jewish people. I don’t buy it, and neither do the majority of informed and intelligent people [the only people whose opinions matter].

  • Joel J

    @gjg64: Or ask yourself why does LCR attend the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference–the biggest collection of right-wing nutcases–where they are clearly not welcome? How low can they stoop for recognition from those who are clearly hostile to gay and lesbian rights.

  • Pete

    The LCRs are shills for the NeoCons, who continue to see American Christians as Janissaries for Zion.

  • JohnQPublic

    The LCR has prostituted itself to any cause the right wing GOP is pushing. In this case, LCR are serving as gay cover for Israeli and Jewish attempts to torpedo the Hagel nomination. It’s that simple and basic, but the big difference is that the efforts of Israeli-firsters to place allegiance to Israel above US national interests are finally being outed.

  • brent

    @2eo: Did you hear about the student who spoke up to Justice Scalia recently? Well it might surprise you that he was gay, conservative and supported Romney. Can you really say gay conservatives never speak up to other conservatives? Now tell me when in the past did Barney Frank speak up in the same way to tha african-american and hispanic communities?

  • brent

    @Kieran: Wow! i get heat for supporting the cabin’s, but here liberals are supporting arab’s over Israel. Do gay liberals think gays have it better in Iran over Israel? There are stories of gay arabs trying to get into Israel. You don’t hear stories of gay Israels moving to arab countries for the same reason.

  • brent

    @gjg64: You do know that the cabin’s fought the long fight in court to overturn DODT, while Obama fought them. Right.

  • brent

    @JohnQPublic: So it is the american interest to support anti-democratic arabs over the democratic state of Israel. I thought liberals hate it when we support the oil sheiks. And how is it better for gays in the midle east to support the arabs over Israel?

  • Harley

    @Brent: I’m sorry. The use of “COWARD” was way wrong. I didn’t mean to insult cowards in that way. My heartfelt apologies to all cowards everywhere. I guess the term I should have used was “HYPOCRITES”. Don’t call yourself a gay organization when you support advocating discrimination against your own kind. Drop any hint that you represent GLBT interests and just call yourselves what you are. Pro-profit over humanities. Why feed poor children when it’s better to sock all your money in off shore bank accounts to avoid paying taxes and elect representatives that promise to pass laws in order to accomplish this. Why doesn’t the LCR advocate from re-instatement of sodomy laws. That’s what they do. Vote for whacks like Michele Bachman. To think she got so close to the presidency is frightening. FRIGHTENING!!!!!!

  • brent

    @Harley: I guess you didn’t know that LCR were the most active in overturning the DODT. Pro-profits, you think it is all about greed. Democrats don’t care about greed. I think you miss the point that some people don’t believe in kenysian economics. You seem to make the mistake all liberals make politics is about greed vs. compassion. I reject that as a false choice. Greedy people know how to make money and create jobs, and like Bill Gates they often give it away to poor children. Besides i don’t vote for just republicans i vote in republican primary for candidates that are pro-gay and if they win i will vote for them. If an anti-gay republican wins i n hold my nose and vote for the democrat. There are plenty of pro-gay repoublicans if you took the time to vote in republican primaries they might start winning more.

  • 2eo

    @brent: Aww bless, he thinks he’s people.

    Brent is not only a coward, but an American traitor who should be jailed and killed for sedition and treason.

  • Harley

    @brent: ah, the old ” we fought for repeal of DADT” line. How sad. Then why support candidates who promised to extend DADT (McCain) or who campaigned on bringing it back (Mitt “Swiss bank accounts” Romney). And how about your hero G W “DOMA” Bush. Your actions and endorsement tell all. Enough said.

  • Harley

    My bad. DOMA was Clinton’s baby. My mistake. G W Bush was ” marriage amendment”. Sorry.

  • Joel J

    @brent: That is not the point. Liberals support the democratic state of Israel. We do not support Likud policy, especially as regards West Bank settlements and West Bank occupation.

  • Chris Vogel

    The answer? They are conservatives: greedy, irresponsibly self-indulgent, childishly irresponsible, and utterly unscrupulous.

  • tidalpool

    “jumps in’ Ok, I am an admitted fiscal conservative, I support equal rights for all of mankind and try to support equality where ever I go. I also have been a log cabin member for more then 20 years. For those of you under 40, I had no place to go as a gay conservative. There were no gay conservatives in any organized fashion when I returned to this country, and they were my answer. Inspite of what the str8 world assumes to be true, there are many conservative gays, we just dont tend to march, blow whistles, call everyone who is not like minded vile names or fall from one au courant movement to the next as the wind blows. Most of us are working professionals, most with advanced degree’s, the majority of us over 35, and wth stable home lives. 30 years plus for myself and my partner. We also tend to take the long term as the important road. Mr Hagel has not proved to be a friend to any LGBT. As a retired military officer, my partner still can not obtain any part of my military benefits. Mr. Hagel has opposed this concept consistantly. Mr. Hagel also has an odd way of showing support for the country of Israel. Israel is the one country in the mid east willing to support and provide LGBT equal rights. Try and find a pride parade in Egypt, or Iran, or Syria, or any other muslim country. Mostly they just chop our heads off and video tape it for peace loving muslims everywhere. Perhaps before all the assumptions and name calling starts, you might look at the role Israel plays in the acceptance of the LGBT community, and how Mr. hagel and his arab supporters absolutely do not.

  • Joel J

    @tidalpool: In other words, it’s about Israel.

  • 2eo

    @Joel J: Indeed, I love it when people appeal to authority, it completely proves what they have to say is not informed or intelligent. Tidalpool isn’t the first and won’t be the last.

  • Joel J

    @brent: Did you hear the way Scalia put down that Princeton student for merely asking the question?

    Conservatives have a problem with authority: they worship it.

  • Joel J

    @tidalpool: Andrew Sullivan, a gay conservative and early and consistent advocate for same sex marriage, did not seek safe refuge in a publication like the National Review or the Weekly Standard. He became the editor of The New Republic and went on from there to advocate publicly for equal treatment of LGBT people without sacrificing his conservative principles. I guess you just needed some organization to do the thinking and speaking for you.

  • JohnQPublic

    Tel Aviv may be the most gay friendly city in the Middle East but tour the rest of right wing orthodox Israel and you will find homophobes the equal to any Muslim. Moreover, the idea that you can excuse Israel’s half-century occupation and destruction of Palestine by saying its more gay friendly than most arab countries is morally bankrupt.That’s like saying the Nazi brown shirts weren’t as bad as the SS because so many if its leaders and recruits were closet queens.

  • tidalpool

    @2eo: 2eo, just reviewed your past comments. You sure seem to advocate violence and speak with a consistant demeaning voice when addressing anyone who holds a viewpoint differing from your own. Not trying to play a tv doctor, but our kids were all the same way as children and thru adolescents. Should I ask your age?

  • tidalpool

    @JohnQPublic: JohnQ, we spent 8 years in Israel the acceptance of the LGBT community there is as great, or more so, then our acceptance is in the USA. The orthodox hassidim may look at us with disgust, but they sure dont lock us up, or deny our rights, or stone us in football arenas, etc. The muslim world dispises gays, period. Acting on ones homosexuality is a death sentance in all muslim governed countries. The analogy you use of the brown shirts and the SS is entirely innapropriate and the actions following the Balfour Decision and the UN mandate deviding that portion of the old Ottoman Empire into distinct arab countries and one jewish country did not destroy any country named Palestine, nor did occuping the land the UN gave to the native jews as a home land involve occupation. Perhaps an unbiased reading of actually history, and even living in Israel for a few years might have an impact on your opinion, however, I fear I sense a zealot.

  • Joel J

    @tidalpool: You need to review your history. The Balfour Declaration did not create a Jewish state. Israel did not become a nation until 1948 in an area previously referred to as Palestine and where Palestinian families had lived and owned property for decades. Creation of the state of Israel created thousands of Palestinian refuges who were crowded together in camps on the West Bank,Jordan and in the Gaza Strip. The historical injustice visited on Palestinians since 1948 is the reason Israel has not and will not know peace as long as it persists in a policy of ever more territorial aggrandizement. These are just a few facts.

  • John

    The US campaign to slowroll Netanyahu on Iran until past the elections where Netanyahu just possibly could have successfully installed a Romney – or forced an Obama into a war with Iran against his choosing – say with a sneak attack on a few Iranian reactors sometime last October (as Israel was ‘in motion’ to do) – has worked extremely well

    Now it’s time to shift momentum and go straight after ‘Netanyahu-Lobby’ in the US to take out the effectiveness of Kristol, Joe Lieberman, McCain, Graham, Schumer, Andrea Mitchell, David Gregory, Rachel Maddow, Bret Stephens, Jennifer Rubin, Ros-Lehiten and all the rest

    Chuck Hagel is the anvil upon which this can easily be accomplished.

    That’s right – I said – ‘easily accomplished’. What has been seemingly impossible for the last 10 yrs now seems eminently possible – and this is amazing to me.

    The spectacle of a Lindsay Graham or Chuck Schumer in Senatorial hearings on a Hagel nomination, with Chuck Hagel firing straight back, will be an experience the ‘Netanyahu-Lobby’ in the US will never recover from

    Something tells me Chuck Hagel has already fully anticipated and prepared for this fight – already volunteered for it – several months ago when Obama and he discussed it. Game On!

    Chuck Hagel face to face vs a Schumer or a Graham? With these denizens of the ‘Netanyahu-Lobby’ fully out in the open?

    I’m not a betting man but tell me this won’t be a particular kind of ‘easy’ or foregone conclusion…

  • Joel J

    @John: Gee, maybe the Hagel nomination was designed to be an extension of the slowroll. It sure has concentrated the energies of the Lobby and the equivalent of throwing a ball of yarn to a kitten.

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