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Could Chuck Hagel at the Pentagon be Like Nixon Going to China?

By Karen Ocamb
News Editor

If President Obama’s nomination of former Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel as Sec. of Defense illustrates anything, it is that the LGBT community is not monolithic. At issue are comments made 14 years ago during the confirmation of James Hormel to be Ambassador to Luxembourg under President Bill Clinton. Hagel said: “[Ambassadors] are representing our lifestyle, our values, our standards. And I think it is an inhibiting factor to be gay openly, aggressively gay.”

Hagel apologized, calling his 1998 remarks “insensitive” and while Hormel questioned the timing as political expedience, he graciously accepted it as a “clear apology.” Obama spoke about the issue on Sunday’s Meet the Press, as the L.A. Times reported:

“With respect to the particular comment that you quoted, he apologized for it,” Obama said. “And I think it’s a testimony to what has been a positive change over the last decade in terms of people’s attitudes about gays and lesbians serving our country. And that’s something that I’m very proud to have led.

“And I think that anybody who serves in my administration understands my attitude and position on those issues,” he added.

But new out Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., is among those who want to ask Hagel questions during his confirmation hearing. “I do want to speak with him, particularly about his comments 14 years ago, to see if his apology is sincere and sufficient,” Baldwin said on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports. “I want to hear how he’s evolved on this issue in the last 14 years.”

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