White House responds to gay concerns about Hagel’s nomination

In a blog post on the White House Web site, senior adviser to the President, Valerie Jarrett, who is known to one of the President’s most trusted confidants, responded to ongoing gay community concerns about Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel’s past record on gay rights issues:

Senator Hagel has been a strong supporter of the President’s approach to national security, and as Secretary of Defense, he will support and execute the President’s vision for our military. That includes continuing the President’s historic support for gay and lesbian service members, and overseeing the continued implementation of the full repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The President is fully committed to ensuring that all of our service members and military families are treated equally. He is confident that, as Secretary of Defense, Senator Hagel will ensure that all who serve the country we love are treated equally — no matter who they love.

Recently, some in the LGBT community have expressed concerns about Senator Hagel’s past comments. In response, Senator Hagel issued a statement in which he apologized for comments that he made in the 1990s, and affirmed both his commitment to LGBT civil rights as well as his support for open service and the families of gay and lesbian service members.

One of the great successes of the LGBT civil rights movement is that it provides the space and opportunity for people to change their hearts and minds, to right past wrongs, and, over time, to evolve. The President believes Senator Hagel’s statement of apology, and his commitment to ensuring that all service members and their families are treated equally. The President would not have chosen him unless he had every confidence that, working together, they will continue to ensure that our military and DoD civilian workforce are as welcoming, inclusive, and respectful as possible.

What’s most interesting about this isn’t the substance. The White House clearly is concerned about the gay backlash against Hagel, as evidenced by the fact that they used a close Obama ally to put out the message that “they’ve heard us.” It’s an ongoing sign of our community’s influence that the White House feels the need to keep explaining, and that’s good.  There was a time when no one cared what the gay community thought about a Defense nominee.

It’s also interesting that nearly half of Jarrett’s post in defense of Hagel is about gay issues.

As for the substance, I’m not entirely convinced yet, but we need to hear from Hagel at the upcoming nomination hearings.  And I suspect we will.  Then we can decide if our concerns have been met.


Log Cabin Republicans’ full-page ad
in the Washington Post opposing Chuck Hagel’s nomination.

I will say that I have growing concerns, not about Hagel, but about the gay Republican group Log Cabin Republicans, and whether we are witnessing another gay organization in a payola, pay-for-play, -type scandal that we previously had with GLAAD (and AT&T) and the NGLTF (and gambling interests), where both gay groups weighed in on an issue that didn’t seem to have a terribly gay angle, only to later found out that a not-gay-at-all outside interest was pulling their strings, and undermining our own community and its ongoing credibility.

In this case, Log Cabin ran a full-page ad attacking Hagel in the NYT, and made the odd choice of not just attacking Hagel for his past anti-gay comments against gay ambassador Jim Hormel, but also including concerns about Hagel’s willingness to take on Iran and defend Israel – two decidedly un-gay issue.  Log Cabin has refused to say who paid for the expensive ad, especially in light of the ad’s focus on two issues that have nothing to do with gay rights.

Again today Log Cabin has yet another full-page ad attacking Hagel, this time in the Washington Post.  This ad, at least, sticks to gay rights issues, but it uses the same photo the previous ad did, and it’s certainly not a stretch to ask whether the same anonymous funder(s), who have interests beyond gay rights issue, paid for this ad as well.

What makes Log Cabin’s new-found interest in anti-gay Republicans so curious is Log Cabin’s long-standing disinterest in standing up to anti-gay Republicans.  Log Cabin had no problem defending John Ashcroft, when he was attacked for his anti-gay comments about Hormel.  And Log Cabin had no problem getting in bed with Mitt Romney, when the GOP presidential candidate renounced pretty much every pro-gay position he had previously ever held.

Log Cabin’s tag line on the ad is “Chuck Hagel’s apology: Too little, too late.”  One could use the same tag line about Log Cabin’s sudden interest in standing up to anti-gay Republicans.

So while one is tempted to simply welcome Log Cabin to the civil rights party and be done with it, beyond their good work on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” lawsuits, the organization hasn’t seemed terribly pre-occupied with taking on anti-gay Republicans in the past, so it’s curious that they’ve suddenly found Jesus (or Harvey) now that the neo-cons have called for a jihad about Chuck Hagel.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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  • http://equalityontrial.com/2013/01/09/plaintiffs-in-two-doma-cases-file-briefs-opposing-a-stay-in-their-cases/
    It unfortunate that DADT was not fully repealed and not the military definition of spouse is being challenged. The fact that Obama lied and claimed it was all moot when it wasn’t is sad. The DADT cases on appeal would have struck down the language similar to DOMA but now there is a case addressing that. See link

  • Skeptical Cicada

    No, actually it would appear that Obama doesn’t give a damn about gays and lesbians now any more than he did when he put a raving anti-gay bigot on his inaugural dais, because he just did it again.


  • Butch1

    Clinton did us no favors by rolling over and stabbing us in the middle of the night by signing these two bills. ( e.g. DOMA and DADT during his tenure in office ) He was no friend of the LGBT no matter how he tries to revise his history. His book even leaves out significant parts regarding this. An history revisionist his certainly is. He would throw us to the sharks if it would advance him politically. I am not one who will soon forget that. ;-)

  • markpkessinger

    People who think there’s something to forgive don’t appreciate what was going on at the time. There was a fear — a very real, well-founded fear — that if DOMA weren’t passed, conservatives would push for a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. And in the mid-90s, such an amendment may well have passed. If that had happened, the hurdle we would now face would be much, much higher.

    [sigh] How soon they forget…

  • Dan B

    I’m concerned about his membership of the board of Chevron. If we have a few more of the “2012 hottest year on record” panic will set in rapidly. Food shortages will not only foment unrest abroad. Panic does not bless minorities.

    I was in Chicago Gay Liberation from 1969 to 1971. The city was in the throes of the Democratic Convention riots, the Chicago 7 trial, and the Vietnam protests. Daley used the unrest to make thuggish behavior by the police acceptable. It made life miserable for LGBT people in Chicago – and across the country.

    The US military has been at the forefront of the solution to our climate crisis – renewable energy. Their purchasing power can ramp up renewable energy businesses to the scale required to be effective. Will his connections with a fossil fuel giant, like Chevron, stifle that progress at precisely the moment we need to rapidly embrace renewable and sustainable energy?-

  • Butch1


  • Skeptical Cicada

    The only useful thing they’ve clearly done is file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of DADT. But, in retrospect, they never did that until Obama was in office, so it was as much about attacking Obama as anything else. They’re a bunch of partisan hacks.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Good observation about Log Cabin.

    Frankly, whether they’re bought by someone else or not, they destroyed their credibility by endorsing Mitt Romney. I’ll never take them seriously again.

  • ronbo

    Because otherwise, we’ll have the Democrats we actually elected. Obama is a slick trojan-horse for the Republicans.

  • ronbo

    This is just plain sad. Obama selects a Republican. Obama selects a homophobe. Obama selects a core conservative. Obama sells out his base – so that he can put Republicans in charge.
    What’s new? Obama is a Republican trojan-horse bent on moving American politics far to the right of what American’s want. Who was it that suggested cutting Social Security? Obama.

  • Butch1

    Where is Hagel’s apology? They mention it but the White House didn’t put it out evidently for us to see. I would have liked to check out his words and see how he phrased his apology for the meaning.

  • Butch1

    Who says “we” have? ;-)

  • Butch1

    We have to have more “bipartisanship” these next four years.

  • Butch1

    Non-aggressive gays were the ones who were in the closet and that’s the way he liked them.

    ” Out of sight; out of mind.”

  • Butch1

    Exactly; when they are not needed anymore they will be discarded or stabbed in the back wondering why since they are such loyal subjects.

  • Butch1

    When one has a “republican” president, they choose republican nominees for the position. ;-)

  • rerutled

    It’s a long-term political strategy. Basically, those who would (baselessly) attack a Democratic DoD are GOP. So, you put a GOP guy up there. They can’t attack without ripping down one of their own. It shoves the GOP to the right, and seizes part of the middle for democrats.

  • rerutled

    What is LCR’s history of activism against DOMA and DADT? Because I’ve been paying attention, and I don’t see a damned single useful thing they’ve done against Republicans who supported either in the past. What moral ground did they seize through their past action, which permits them to stand and condemn others today? In the absence of such a history, their recent work against Hagel appears to be no more than an astroturfed effort to damage Obama from the Republican right.

  • Jim Olson

    Of course they didn’t mind. Half the male guests dipped into them in the coat room before the evening was over, and their wives were none the wiser.

  • Jim Olson

    As Gaius Publius always says, “follow the money”.

  • citizen_spot

    Personally, I am much more concerned with the nomination of Brennan for CIA director. But I guess that is for another future post.

  • NEWS FLASH: Hagel is NOT the central issue here—nor the ludicrous meme “the continued implementation of DADT repeal”—it’s BEEN IMPLEMENTED for Christ’s sake! The REAL PROBLEM is that, no matter how often tireless Administration Shill Valerie Jarrett coos that “The President is fully committed to ensuring that all of our service members and military families are treated equally”—no matter how many times he claims it himself—INaction speaks louder than proverbial words. THE undisputed FACT is that he has REFUSED FOR TWO YEARS to order the Pentagon to do just that DESPITE having been urged to by HRC in January 2011, despite SLDN having REPEATEDLY done the same since February 2011. When the Commander-in-Chief didn’t order current liberal Democratic Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to make it happen, WHY should we believe that he’ll require Hagel
    [again, regardless of whether or not HE’s changed] to do anything different? WHEN are our paid advocates—and out representatives in Congress—going to SERIOUSLY put pressure on the President to FULFILL this promise? And when is Gay Media going to put ANY pressure on them or him? Two years, y’all. TWO YEARS!

  • Aggressively closeted is having a wide stance and leaving the john door open.

  • And, classic Business Law 102: Debt is not asset

  • same

  • wtf2

    I’d like Mr. Hagel to explain what it means to be “aggressively gay.” And is there such a thing as “aggressively straight”? Also, while we’re at it, when 20 Afghan children are killed by US government drones is it as sad as when 20 American children are shot in their school?

  • MyrddinWilt

    Near as I can make out Hegel has to be DefSec as neerner-neerner to the Republicans who tried to draw a line in the stand.

    I think that we should fix the deficit ceiling by selling stuff. Like the House side of Congress and all the military bases in GOP districts.

  • nicho

    Next up: Fred Phelps invited to give invocation at the inauguration.

  • nicho

    I remember a friend who was invited to a GOP fundraiser at the home of a big party donor. A lot of GOP pols were there, as were a lot of influential business people. No one seemed to mind that the single man who hosted the party had two 20-something “houseboys” from Thailand.

  • nicho

    Business Law 101: You can’t sell what you don’t have.

  • Houndentenor

    if we can forgive the Clintons for DOMA, then we can forgive Hagel for 14 year old comments. I trust Sen Baldwin to ask some tough questions but this isn’t any worse than some of the votes during that time from supposedly pro-gay Democrats on DOMA and DADT.

  • I think that at the end of the day, they know that as long as they have lots of money. nobody is really going to care who they sleep with. Remember, in conservative theology, laws are for poor people.

  • Drew2u

    I don’t suppose there’s any way to ask his stance on the targeted blocking of GLBT news sites by the Pentagon, then?

  • In the last election, the LCR, in unequivocally endorsing Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan — and the entire slate of GOP candidates — proved they are Republicans first, conservatives second, and waaaaaaay down the list comes “Oh yeah, some gay rights would be nice, but we’re not going to be so rude as to insist on actually getting them, especially when our favored candidates’ platforms include Constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage forever, repealing anti-gay hate crimes laws, banning gay people from adopting kids, and reinstating DADT.”

    As far as I’m concerned, this Taiwanese Animation video, although written about GOProud’s relationship with the Republican party, also applies to LCR:


  • Among my many reasons for not voting for Obama in the last election was exactly this one. Of course, it was well down the list from my top reason, which was ‘assumed unilateral authority to kill anyone, anywhere in the world, just for standing next to a suspected terrorist or insurgent.’ But Obama’s propensity to accommodate and power-share with Republicans like this — appointing an extremely conservative Republican to run the DoD (failing the 100% pure neo-con litmus test only in his opposition to unwarranted, open-ended use of military force and what sounds like sensible immigration positions) — was definitly on the list.

    I honestly think Hagel’s change of heart on LGBT open service is he was told he had to be vocal about supporting the repeal of DADT. Now. Despite his decades of insisting that homosexuality was incompatible with military service.

  • S1AMER

    Yep. This is what’s known as selling your soul.

  • nicho

    Can someone explain to me again why there are no Democrats qualified to be Defense Secretary? Why are we rewarding the Party of No? I voted for Barack “Lesser of Two Evils” Obama because Republicans are terrible people. I didn’t vote to have Republicans in key posts.

  • caphillprof

    The problem is they are acting as a front for non-gay elements within the Republican right-wing.

  • “As for the substance, I’m not entirely convinced yet,” But, but Hagel’s, “I’m sorry if I offended any fags” is so sincere. *snark Excellent article John, particularly the Log Cabin’s increasingly surrogate role as a front for the same right-wing funders that created the T-Party.

  • caphillprof

    I think the battle for gay equality is far, far, far from won in the Pentagon and throughout the DOD. You cannot simply apologize for anti-gay bigotry; you must show that you’ve had a come to Jesus, road to Damascus conversion on civil rights and full citizenship for gay people. Hagel has only apologized; he has not demonstrated a change in his heard when it comes to gay people. His apology is not sufficient.

    Americablog having recently discovered that it is being blocked by part of the DOD IT system, should be most concerned about having a real Hagel conversion as opposed to this convenient sham of an apology by Hagel. The war inside the DOD is not over.

  • Indigo

    Is that you, Valerie? Um . . . you’re known for your spin, you know, not for substance. What I’m saying is, that’s not good enough. Hagel is not acceptable, tell Barry to move on and look elsewhere.

  • Excellent commentary about LCR and the troubling pattern of LGBT endorsements being for sale.

  • MyrddinWilt

    This really shows how screwed up DC is.

    Hagel might well have been in trouble because of his previous anti-gay statements. But the Republicans were upset because Hagel endorsed Obama over McCain in 2008 and they want to punish him over that. So they invented a ‘problem’ claiming that he was a millimeter off support for the AIPAC line on something. But that does not really matter to them any more than the anti gay stuff twenty years ago that they have now decided they have a problem with.

    So because the reptiles threw a panty-twist fit before Obama had even decided to nominate Hagel, Obama would look weak if he did not nominate Hagel so now we have to back a nominee we might have pushed back on just to show the panty-twist party that they don’t run Washington.

  • I agree. If they’re against him, it makes me jump to the conclusion that I should be for him. Not that that’s right either – more thought is needed. But it’s alarming enough to raise doubts.

  • S1AMER

    I don’t trust Log Cabin Republicans as far as I can throw a log. And I’m too old and arthritic these days to throw logs very far.

  • They really don’t care that much since they went with him anyway. They calculated that the gay community really doesn’t care as long as he doesn’t do anything anti-gay after he is appointed.

    Lesson for the day: You can be a raging bigot, and still be appointed to high office in this country. If you are in the least bit liberal, however, your career is dead, dead, dead.

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