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Former Sen. Chuck Hagel apologizes for 1998 gay comment, now supports LGBT military families

BY DONNA CASSATA, ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON -- The former U.S. senator believed to be President Barack Obama's leading choice for defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, is apologizing for remarks he made in 1998 about an openly gay nominee for an ambassadorship.

In a brief written statement issued Friday, the Republican said his comments about James C. Hormel were "insensitive" and did not reflect his views.

In an interview with the Omaha World-Herald in 1998, Hagel said he believed that for a U.S. ambassador, in his words, "it is an inhibiting factor to be gay." He went on to call Hormel "openly, aggressively gay."

Hagel apologized Friday to Hormel and to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender Americans who may question his commitment to their civil rights.

Hagel says he supports "open service" and is committed to LGBT military families.

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OutServe-SLDN Statement on Hagel Apology

(Washington, DC) Army veteran and OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson released the following statement in reaction to an aplogy issued today by former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel for remarks made in 1998. The apology was reported by Washington Post.
 
"We are pleased that Senator Hagel recognized the importance of retracting his previous statement about Ambassador Hormel and affirming his commitment to Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal and LGBT military families. We look forward to learning more about his commitment to full LGBT military equality as this nomination and confirmation process unfolds," she said.

HRC Statement on Sen. Hagel’s Apology

WASHINGTON - Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin released the following statement in response to Sen. Hagel’s apology today:

"Senator Hagel's apology and his statement of support for LGBT equality is appreciated and shows just how far as a country we have come when a conservative former Senator from Nebraska can have a change of heart on LGBT issues. Our community continues to add allies to our ranks and we're proud that Senator Hagel is one of them.

"The next Defense Secretary should get off to a fast start and ensure LGBT military families have access to every possible benefit under the law. Every day these families continue to face unfair treatment and the Secretary can take meaningful action to remedy this discrimination."

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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