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Baldwin cautious on Hagel nomination, questions if apology was ‘sincere’

Wants to hear how he’s 'evolved' on LGBT rights in the last 14 years since anti-gay remarks
Monday, January 7, 2013

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the first openly gay member of the U.S. Senate, said Monday she would not to commit to supporting former Sen. Chuck Hagel’s nomination as Defense Secretary until she is more confident that his apology for anti-gay remarks he made in 1998 is “sincere.”

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.)

“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 the last 14 years.”

In 1998, Hagel opposed President Bill Clinton’s nomination of James Hormel as ambassador to Luxembourg, saying as a gay man he couldn’t be effective as a top diplomat.

“They are representing America,” Hagel told the Omaha World Herald. “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.”

In a statement to the Washington Post last month, Hagel issued an apology, stating, “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.”

Baldwin said Hagel’s position on gay rights issues was particularly important because of the ongoing process following the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and allowing openly gay troops to serve in the military.

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4 more reader comments:

  1. This is WHY it matters to have a gay or lesbian in a powerful position like US Senator.

    Posted on Monday, January 7, 2013 at 3:51pm
  2. Grill him, Senator! I think being an anti-gay bigot is an “inhibiting factor” to being an effective member of the cabinet.

    Posted on Monday, January 7, 2013 at 4:00pm
  3. Obama payback for LGBT votes & donations is a gay bashing bitch named Chuck adding one more reason to my many reasons why I am glad I voted for Jill Stein

    Posted on Monday, January 7, 2013 at 4:18pm
  4. I don’t know the deal about Hagel but I’m willing to accept an apology at face value until proven otherwise. again not sure if it applies here but we need to support evolving positions, its in our favor.

    Posted on Monday, January 7, 2013 at 7:11pm