Former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., released a statement Dec. 21 apologizing for comments he made more than a decade ago about a gay ambassadorial nominee, the Huffington Post reported.
In 1998, Hagel who is under consideration to be nominated as the next secretary of defensecalled James Hormel, then-President Bill Clinton's nominee for ambassador to Luxembourg, "openly, aggressively gay."
On Dec. 20, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) called on Hagel to repudiate those comments.
In his apology, Hagel said, "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."
In a statement, Army veteran and OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson said, "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."
HRC President Chad Griffin, in his own statement, said that "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."