National Gay and Lesbian Task Force calls upon DOD Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel to address LGBT concerns during confirmation process

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.

Chuck_Hagel_official_photoIn 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.