In the latest fight Barack Obama is willing to have — over his nomination of former Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense — the president is feeling heat not only from the right but from his left flank. The Weekly Standard reports that GetEQUAL, a pro-lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender organization, issued a statement on Friday expressing its displeasure with the Hagel pick.
The statement, written by GetEQUAL’s chairwoman Tanya Domi, reads:
GetEQUAL strongly opposes the potential nomination of Chuck Hagel to become the next Secretary of Defense. Hagel has, time and time again, taken every opportunity to lambast and denigrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans, and the Cabinet is no place for this kind of disrespect.
Hagel’s recent apology for his insulting comments about the nomination of [openly gay philanthropist] James Hormel as U.S. Ambassador to Luxemborg [sic] were hollow, politically expedient, and nakedly gratuitous. The Defense Department has made important strides toward creating an inclusive Armed Forces, but has miles left to go — nominating Hagel to lead the Defense Department would be a staggering step backward for the LGBT community and an upheaval of President Obama’s past support for the LGBT community.
During his years in Congress, Hagel consistently opposed the advancement of civil rights for LGBT Americans. A Hagel nomination would throw President Obama’s support for LGBT civil rights into deep suspicion. Following yesterday’s signing of an NDAA that includes a new ‘conscience clause’ designed to permit discrimination in the military by chaplains, the LGBT community is looking for leadership at the Defense Department that will remove discriminatory practices from the Armed Forces — not cement those practices.
GetEQUAL strongly recommends that President Obama nominate a new leader at the Pentagon who will fully and fairly implement the Military Readiness Enhancement Act and who will provide leadership to create anti-discrimination policies that will extend respect and dignity for LGBT service members and their families, extend benefits to same-sex partners of service members, and provide a pathway for transgender service members to finally serve their country openly and honestly.
It is interesting that Domi takes Hagel to task for comments he made that she deems “hollow, politically expedient, and nakedly gratuitous.” Those same adjectives could be applied to the president’s “evolution” from anti- to pro-same-sex marriage in (with?) the wink of an eye last May.
In any case, notes The Weekly Standard, Obama is expected to nominate a new secretary of defense soon. He wasn’t nearly so ready to yield to pressure when it came from those who criticized Hagel’s “tough love” stance toward Israel.