The Huffington Post reports:
Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel attempted to put to rest any doubt about his commitment to gay rights on Tuesday, saying he supported the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and would work to extend equal benefits to gay and lesbian military families.
“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,” the former Republican senator from Nebraska wrote in a letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). “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.”
Until this moment, I was opposed to Hagel’s nomination. He offered what appeared to be a lame apology to James Hormel for his effort to sabotage Hormel’s nomination as Ambassador to Luxembourg. The Nebraska senator’s gay-rights record was hideous, regularly scoring a goose egg on the Human Rights Campaign’s congressional scorecard.
His latest statement has changed my mind. Whether he is sincere or just wants the top job is secondary to his public commitment to do the right thing. If his change of heart is political — well, that may be okay because it is Washington and he is a politician. I’m inclined to cut Obama some slack given his support for marriage equality and ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Finally, it is Obama, and not Hagel, in charge of policy. So, I tepidly give my approval to the nomination and hope that Hagel keeps this country safe from enemies foreign and domestic.
In terms of other criticisms regarding his views on Israel and Iran, I am unpersuaded that he is a threat to the Jewish State and is soft on Iran. It seems that special interests are exaggerating these issues so they can install a puppet who can’t think for himself. We hope that the confirmation hearings will clarify these issues as well.