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James Hormel Speaks Out About Chuck Hagel's Apology

Former ambassador to Luxembourg James Hormel spoke out today about former Senator Chuck Hagel's apology for remarks he made when Hormel was being considered for his position in 1998. Hagel had said that the fact that Hormel was "aggressively gay" would inhibit his ability to function as a U.S. ambassador.

Today, Hagel apologized in an attempt to preserve his viability as a nominee for Secretary of Defense, saying, “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.”

HormelWrites the WaPo's Greg Sargent: an interview this afternoon, the target of the 1998 slur, leading gay philanthropist James Hormel, told me he never received an apology from Hagel himself, questioned the sincerity of the apology, and said the incident should still raise questions about whether Hagel is the right man to oversee the repeal of don’t ask don’t tell.

“I have not received an apology,” Hormel, who is a major figure in Democratic politics, told me. “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 added that the apology appeared to have been given “only in service of his attempt to get the nomination.”...

...Of Hagel’s comment, Hormel added: “If it were made today, it would be clearly disqualifying.”

Added Hormel on Facebook:

"Senator Hagel's apology is significant--I can't remember a time when a potential presidential nominee apologized for anything. While the timing appears self-serving, the words themselves are unequivocal--they are a clear apology. Since 1998, fourteen years have passed, and public attitudes have shifted--perhaps Senator Hagel has progressed with the times, too. His action affords new stature to the LGBT constituency, whose members still are treated as second class citizens in innumerable ways. Senator Hagel stated in his remarks that he was willing to support open military service and LGBT military families. If that is a commitment to treat LGBT service members and their families like everybody else, I would support his nomination."

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  1. Hagel has in integrity. He is not suitable for such a prestigious role. He is only apologizing now to save his own career aspirations.

    We don't need self absorbed, uneducated, bigoted and dishonest "men" like him in government positions.

    Posted by: Icebloo | Dec 21, 2012 7:03:30 PM

  2. pfft.

    Posted by: Emmy | Dec 21, 2012 7:40:53 PM

  3. i believe in giving people a second chance (even when it's expedient for them to do so).

    these comments were apparently made 14 or so years ago. i know many democrats in the senate or in the house who voted for "don't ask, don't tell" and for the so-called defense of marriage act. today, many of them have changed their minds and are now pro-equality and pro-liberty. and that's a good thing.

    we should encourage people to change their views; we should not hold them to the opinions they had when they were clearly ignorant of what being lgbt means.

    besides, barack's got my back, so i'm good.

    Posted by: daftpunkydavid | Dec 21, 2012 7:45:43 PM

  4. If Hagel meets with Hormel, and satisfies Hormel's questions, I would say "OK, the world has changed a lot in these 14 years".
    If he won't meet Hormel, Obama should dump him.
    If we kept all the same enemies we had in 1988, we would be in trouble.

    Posted by: Bob | Dec 21, 2012 7:47:08 PM

  5. Sorry, as a community we should NOT allow this man to be allowed in the position of Secretary of Defense. Not for one moment. 14 years ago he set out to destroy the career of a well respected highly capable openly gay man. Today to save his sorry tush he is back-tracking. Doesn't work that way. He should NOT be allowed to be considered for SOD whatsoever.

    Posted by: OS2Guy | Dec 21, 2012 7:57:04 PM

  6. That is not an apology. His remarks were MORE than insensitive. They were wrong, bigoted, and morally indefensible. He should not be considered for a position in ANY administration.

    Posted by: Not an Apology | Dec 21, 2012 8:34:29 PM

  7. Hormel's statements make no sense. First, he says that he does not accept Hagel's apology. Then on Facebook he states that he will. Doubletalk.

    Posted by: niles | Dec 21, 2012 8:48:49 PM

  8. Apology accepted but no on the nom for Sec of Defense. Hagel's employment history should stand as such thus he should be rejected. Hormel should be deeply ashamed.

    Posted by: RICK | Dec 21, 2012 9:08:26 PM

  9. [q]he set out to destroy the career of a well respected highly capable openly gay man[/q]

    Posted by: Homo Genius | Dec 21, 2012 9:19:21 PM

  10. Without contacting Hormel directly, Hagel's apology seems self-serving and only a ploy to get the nomination. If Hagel were willing to contact Hormel directly (in person, via telephone, via email, etc), that would be different. When we apologize to someone and the apology is sincere, we always contact the person directly. It would look a lot more convincing if Hagel did that.

    Posted by: Artie_in_Lauderdale | Dec 21, 2012 9:39:09 PM

  11. I was thinking the same thing, Niles.

    How I see it.........Hagel needs to reach out to Hormel, and needs to directly reach out to LGBT organizations and make it abundantly clear where he stands. Until he does that I'm not cool with him being nominated.

    Posted by: Francis | Dec 21, 2012 10:10:24 PM

  12. Releasing an "apology" to the press, not matter how well worded it is, without even contacting the object of the insult, is not making an apology— it's public relations.

    Posted by: Eric | Dec 21, 2012 10:33:27 PM

  13. Eric, well said.

    Posted by: Phil | Dec 21, 2012 11:23:45 PM

  14. I wish Obama would stop nominating Republicans for the sake of appearing "bipartisan." It's very transparent, and the Republicans don't even appreciate the gesture so it's not even helping in build a coalition.

    As for Hagel, beyond his "aggressively gay" comment, he voted FOR the Iraq War and FOR the PATRIOT Act (though Obama has extended that so I suppose he's just as guilty). That's not really someone I'd trust as head of the Defense Department. Even though Hagel is now against the Iraq War, his vote then shows that he isn't capable of making the right decision when it matters the most.

    Posted by: John | Dec 21, 2012 11:46:11 PM

  15. The fact remains that he has never considered apologizing to James Hormel until now and even now it was not an apology to Mr. Hormel.

    Posted by: jleo71 | Dec 22, 2012 12:09:15 AM

  16. Just a reminder, Mr DADT DOMA appointed Hormel. When the Senate wouldn't confirm him, Clinton made a legal end-run by making a recess appointment.

    Posted by: Diogenes Arktos | Dec 22, 2012 12:25:36 AM

  17. We do not need Chuck Hagel. Next nominee, please.

    Posted by: JeffNYC | Dec 22, 2012 12:44:00 AM

  18. Enough of this subject. As if the gay community hasn't hurt innocent people and either gave insincere apologies or....never apologized for it at all. I don't like Hagel, but...don't be a bunch of hypocrites.

    Posted by: Yupp | Dec 22, 2012 1:00:45 AM

  19. Why should gay people constantly be the ones giving people a second chance in terms of BLATANT homophobia? happens ALL the time, and EVERY single time...LGBT people are told to "be the bigger person and move on"...That right there in itself, that flippant approach and demanding LGBT be just as flippant is what exasporates homophobia.

    I'm all for forgiveness...but only when someone has shown a sincere apology for what they have done. Hagel hasn't.

    Posted by: Trees Meets KS | Dec 22, 2012 3:12:57 AM

  20. @yupp

    Two wrongs don't make a right- even if your argument wasn't a classic attempt at misdirection. Hagel may be considered for the job, but, last I heard, the gay community was not a potential candidate.

    Posted by: Eric | Dec 22, 2012 3:14:45 AM

  21. Sorry. It's about 2013. MILLIONS of people out there who haven't made such ignorant and hateful commentary in their past. There's people qualified for this position who were decent human beings most of their lives, and can represent people, their welfare and society in a far more qualified manner. This Hagel man is not one of them.

    @ Yupp
    You're commentary is always one where you either play devil's advocate on here, defend the phobes, or throw LGBT under the bus. And people can do a quick search of your handle to see that. Your agenda is showing a little more subtle on the next site.

    Posted by: Scott Johanesen | Dec 22, 2012 3:15:27 AM

  22. Nope. Not a sincere apology. And gay people have been hurt enough to not have to settle for Reagen era politicians in 2013. Those were brutal times for our community, and progress means just that...moving forward with individuals who are genuinely progressive and humanitarian. Not ones who fake it for a salary.

    Posted by: Yellow Mellow | Dec 22, 2012 3:16:52 AM

  23. It looks like the U.S. may have an outstanding foreign policy team. Pres Obama, Sec of State Kerry and Sec of Defense Hagel. They are all like minded individuals in regard to the U.S. foreign policy and use of our military forces. They all believe in multi-lateralism and that the use of military forces should be the last resort. They are the exact opposite of the mostly "chicken hawk" neo-cons who believe in U.S. unilateralism and see the military option as at the top of the list of options. How fortunate that Mr Obama will have those two outstanding wounded warriors as his chief foreign and military policies advisors.

    Posted by: andrew | Dec 22, 2012 3:17:09 AM

  24. Scott : Have no agenda except for making people take responsibility for what they did. No matter which group it is. Especially when it involved deliberate cruelty...uh..."dear."

    Posted by: Yupp | Dec 22, 2012 3:17:22 AM

  25. He tried to get a gay man fired STRICTLY because the man was gay. He went on a witch hunt against that gay man in a very public campaign. He taunted, ridiculed, and attacked the character of that gay man STRICTLY because that man was gay. That didn't happen in the 1950s, or even 80s...that was 14 years ago. He never apologized to that gay man, or even reached out to him.

    We're gay. That doesn't mean we need to play dumb folks.

    Posted by: Steve-ATL | Dec 22, 2012 3:18:57 AM

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