Former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) — who is rumored to be a frontrunner to succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta — has been taking heat for comments he made in in 1998, when, during the debate over President Bill Clinton‘s pick for the next Ambassador to Luxembourg, Hagel said the nominee was “openly aggressively gay.” Today, he issued an apology for those remarks.
“Ambassadorial posts are sensitive,” Hagel said of James Hormel‘s nomination, in a 1998 interview. “They are representing America. 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.”
Hagel also supported “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” the policy which prohibited gays from serving openly in the military (and which President Obama repealed).
Hagel released the following statement:
“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.”
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