LGBT Groups And Neo-Cons Both Angry Over Potential Hagel Nomination


This doesn’t happen very often: progressive LGBT groups and neo-conservatives actually agree on something, namely that former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel should not be President Obama’s pick for Defense Secretary. Though they have decidedly different reasons.

For equality-minded activists, Hagel’s objectionable for his anti-gay voting record and, more to the point, comments he made in 1998, when openly gay James Hormel was being considered as ambassador to Luxembourg.

“They are representing America,” Hagel said of ambassadors. “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.” Hormel did eventually get the job.

HRC called Hagel’s comments “unacceptable,” according to BuzzFeed, while Victory Fund’s Denis Dison quipped, “Today openly LGBT Americans serve throughout the three branches of the
federal government, and at very high levels; those who are still
openly, aggressively anti-gay in 2012 probably won’t be able to function
very well in Washington.”

Meanwhile, over on the right, the Weekly Standard‘s Bill Kristol is trying to portray Hagel as “anti-Israel.” “Anti-Israel propagandists are thrilled,” Kristol wrote. “Hagel certainly does have anti-Israel, pro-appeasement-of-Iran bona
fides. While still a senator, Hagel said that ‘a military strike against
Iran, a military option, is not a viable, feasible, responsible

Writing on the right’s attacks on Hagel, Robert Wright at the Atlantic notes, “[The magazine] is employing what you might call a two-tiered strategy: the low road and the lower

For its part, and its concerns about Hagel’s past anti-gay comments, HRC says hope the former senator explains himself. “We look forward to hearing from Senator Hagel on these issues should he be nominated,” said spokesperson Michael Cole-Schwartz.


  1. woodroad34 says

    “They are representing America,” Hagel said of ambassadors. “They are representing our lifestyle, our values, our standards.”

    No, just your standards. Honestly, what hubris. Do we really want someone with that type of personality being Defense Secretary? I mean, he will be representing America, our lifestyle, our values and our standards. He will be the Indefensible Secretary; the Scalia of the Cabinet.

  2. andrew says

    I think former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel would make an excellent Sec of Defense. He is a wounded Vietnam War veteran who opposes the “chicken hawk” neo-con Republicans who see our military as a first response rather than a last response to international issues. He shares President Obamas views on this issue. He is a supporter of the State of Israel but disagrees with the Israeli lobby that believes the Israeli government is always right and should be supported no matter how extreme their position. As to the gay issues he will be in line with President Obama on equality for LGBT people. Anyone in bed with the neo-cons who from the comfort of their D.C. Condos caused thousands of American military to die in a needless war should check their narrow self interest point of view.

  3. niles says

    Hopefully, he has evolved in his views. What is really troubling today is the odious “conscience provision” in the Defense Bill that has been agreed to by our supposed allies in the Democratic Party. This will open up every gay and lesbian soldier to rampant discrimination.

  4. Jacques says

    I would be inclined to allow him the benefit of the doubt if he says his views have evolved in the 12 years since he made those remarks. There’s been a lot of evolving going on after all.

    He does have a couple things to recommend him. 1) As a Senator he was a lone voice of sanity in his party. 2) The neocons hate him.

  5. Francis says

    I read the conscious provision was heavily watered down because the Defense bill wouldn’t have been approved otherwise by Democrats. I read the provision will have virtually no effect because the provision basically restates current law, and that anti-gay discrimination is still barred and actively harassing a gay troop or discriminating against same-sex couples is not going to become OK.

    With that being said, expect some bigots to push the limits of the provision and see what they can get away with.

  6. Brian says

    Agreed that he deserves the benefit of the doubt here. I don’t know what the statute of limitations should be on making stupid comments, but in a field as fast changing as gay rights, clearly comments made twelve years ago are outdated. He should be given the opportunity to explain his current position, and be judged solely on that. If he passes that test, I think it’s a good call to get credit among the general public for appointing a republican to cabinet, while at the same time pissing off the republican establishment who hate the guy.

  7. Michael says

    Comments made 12 years ago versus a man who doesn’t automatically bend over every time Israel gets the urge to screw us.

    I am kinda liking this guy. They say the enemies of your enemies can make good allies.

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