Former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel, the president’s nominee for defense secretary, says he supported the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and believes gay servicemembers and their families should be treated equally.
The president’s selection of the Republican for the defense post has drawn criticism from some in the LGBT community because Hagel opposed the nomination of an openly gay man as ambassador in 1998 and also, as a senator from Nebraska, he had an anti-gay voting record.
Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, has apologized for his record of more than a decade ago.
More recently, in a letter to U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., he said, “I fully support the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 and value the service of all those who fight for our country. I know firsthand the profound sacrifice our service members and their families make, and if confirmed as Secretary of Defense, I will do everything possible to the extent permissible under current law to provide equal benefits to the families of all our service members.”
Responding, OutServe-SLDN executive director Allyson Robinson said, “Sen. Hagel’s commitment is a turning point for our gay and lesbian military families. His promise to grant these service members the family benefits they have earned demonstrates his deepening grasp of the injustice currently being done to them.” OutServe-SLDN pushed for the repeal of DADT and called for equal benefits for gay servicemembers and sought the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.