Gay Criticism Of Chuck Hagel Keeps A-Coming

President Obama's nomination of former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense has been controversial, partly because of Hagel's icky gay-related remarks in 1998, not to mention his bad record on LGBT issues.

Here are some statements that have come forth on the issue:

Garden State Equality Chair and CEO Steven Goldstein: "We love our president and so many of us at Garden State Equality worked hard for his reelection. But his nomination of Chuck Hagel is extraordinarily insensitive. It's hard to believe there's not another person on earth who doesn't have Hagel's credentials but who isn't as offensive. The nomination is puzzling at best and stunning at worst. Frankly we hope Republicans and fair-minded Democrats hold firm in keeping Hagel's feet to the fire. The overwhelming burden of proof is on Hagel, not on the U.S. Senate, to convince the nation he is a changed leader. He can start by announcing his support for open service for transgender people in the military, whom the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell did not cover."

Garden State Equality Chair and CEO-elect Troy Stevenson: "The instincts of everyone who believes in equality should be to oppose this nomination. Chuck Hagel's record on LGBT issues in the U.S. Senate was abhorrent, and his characterization of Ambassador Jim Hormel as being 'aggressively gay' was as homophobic as it was bizarre. That does not suggest the kind of fair-minded temperament we need at the Department of Defense. Chuck Hagel has to explain in detailed terms how he will make good on his past, including by telling the nation in great detail how he will implement open military service, and whether he believes in extending the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell to our transgender soldiers. Nothing short of that will do."

Meanwhile, Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay Senator, wouldn't commit yesterday to getting behind Hagel. Said she on TV: "I do want to speak with him, particularly about his comments 14 years ago, to see if his apology is sincere and sufficient. I want to hear how he's evolved on this issue in the the last 14 years."

And while Barney Frank was vocal on this, he's gotten a little more conciliatory about it.

Said one report: "Former representative Barney Frank is dialing back his opposition to the pending nomination of former senator Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense, saying he is willing to look past the Nebraska Republican's comments about gays because it is more important that his views prevail on drawing down the war in Afghanistan and reducing wasteful defense spending. ...


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