Press

Task Force calls upon Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel to address LGBT concerns during confirmation process

Date: 
January 07, 2013

MEDIA CONTACT:

Inga Sarda-Sorensen
Director of Communications
(Office) 646.358.1463
(Cell) 202.641.5592
isorensen@theTaskForce.org

WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 — The Obama administration today nominated former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) to become secretary of defense. Hagel's senatorial record on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues as well as reproductive rights is cause for concern.

In 1998, Hagel referred to James Hormel, then President Bill Clinton's choice for U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg, as “openly, aggressively gay.” He claimed that Hormel's sexual orientation would be an “inhibiting factor” preventing him from doing “an effective job.” Hagel recently apologized for his remarks, calling them “insensitive.” Hagel was also against the repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell.”

As senator, Hagel voted against amendments to allow service women to access abortion services at military hospitals, even if they paid for the services on their own. Thanks to a recent amendment by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) to the 2013 defense bill, military insurance will soon cover abortions for service women who are raped. Hagel stated during his first campaign for Senate that exceptions to allow legal abortions in cases of rape aren't necessary.

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

"We continue to express our concerns about the nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense due to his poor track record on LGBT equality and reproductive rights. Cabinet choices set the tone for an administration and it is critical that those members support fairness, women’s health and the belief in a level playing field for all. Though Chuck Hagel has recently apologized for past anti-gay remarks, we expect him to fully explain his views during the confirmation process and what steps he intends to take as defense secretary to demonstrate his support for LGBT members of the military and their families. We recognize that people do evolve on these issues and we hold out hope that, if confirmed, Hagel will meet the bar set by other cabinet secretaries and the administration when it comes to ensuring fairness for all LGBT military families and for women in the military.”

To learn more about the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, follow us on Twitter: @TheTaskForce.

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The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund builds the grassroots political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The Task Force Action Fund does this through direct and grassroots lobbying to defeat anti-LGBT ballot initiatives and legislation, and works to pass pro-LGBT legislation and other progressive initiatives. The Task Force Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation incorporated in New York. Contributions to the Task Force Action Fund are not tax-deductible.