Should the Gay Community Stand Behind Chuck Hagel?

Voices you trust weigh in.

Photo by Think Stock

President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense has thrown the LGBTQ community for a loop. Should we be leery of a candidate whose anti-gay voting record as a Nebraska senator earned him a zero-percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign? Or should we trust our commander in chief — arguably the most important gay ally on the planet? To help you make up your mind, I’ve culled a few responses from trusted gay-supportive journalists and bloggers.

On The Dish, gay blogger Andrew Sullivan dedicated a whole day to explaining “Why Hagel Matters.” His coverage stemmed from the opinion that the move is a “strike against anti-Semitism” to getting all giddy about the debate it would spawn in the Senate. Log Cabin Republicans are crazy against the nomination. In an ad that ran yesterday in the Washington Post, they call out Hagel for a statement he made 15 years ago against Bill Clinton’s nomination of James Hormel as U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg, when he said Hormel is “openly, aggressively gay” and that his homosexuality was an ““inhibiting factor” in his ability to do the job. Hagel recently retracted that statement — a move the Human Rights Campaign embraced — and Sullivan praises that move as “evolutionary.”

After coming out against Hagel in late December, former Democratic Rep. and big ol’ gay Barney Frank has also begun singing a different tune about the nomination, telling the Boston Globe that,  “As much as I regret what Hagel said, and resent what he said, the question now is going to be Afghanistan and scaling back the military. “In terms of the policy stuff, if he would be rejected [by the Senate], it would be a setback for those things.”

Let’s hope this outpouring of gay support preceding his likely nomination inspires him to make some big moves for the LGBTQ community. A good place for him to start would be the HuffPost’s Aaron Belkin’s list of  “5 Things Hagel Should Do For Gay Troops.” He calls on Hagel to make some  ballsy moves like “supporting gay and lesbian military families to the fullest extent allowed by law” and beginning the process of “addressing transgender troops who are already serving with distinction and honor.”