WASHINGTON — The head of the leading organization for LGBT servicemembers and their families, following reports that former Sen. Chuck Hagel is expected to be nominated for Secretary of Defense, called it "incumbent" upon Hagel "to lay out demonstrable actions he will take to support" LGBT service members and their families.
Hagel has faced some criticism from LGBT organizations for comments he made in 1998 opposing Clinton nominee James Hormel as "aggressively gay," although he recently apologized for those comments. Former Rep. Barney Frank has said he opposes Hagel's nomination because of the comments and a track record of being "against fairness for LGBT people."
OutServe-SLDN executive director Allyson Robinson, in a statement provided to BuzzFeed Friday afternoon, said:
Senator Hagel clearly has the military credentials and experience to do the job of running our nation’s Defense Department — at OutServe-SLDN, we have no doubt about that — and we appreciate his apology for the anti-gay remarks he made in 1998 and the commitment he expressed to LGBT service members and their families. It will now be incumbent upon him during the nomination and confirmation process to lay out demonstrable actions he will take to support that commitment.
Specifically, Robinson said the group is looking for Hagel's commitment to movement in two areas that LGBT advocates have been unsuccessful in getting accomplished since the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in 2011:
Senator Hagel has said he is ‘committed to LGBT military families,’ so, if nominated and confirmed, he should immediately extend, via secretarial directive, all benefits available to married same-sex military couples and families while the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is still on the books. He said he is ‘fully supportive of open service,’ so he should extend military equal opportunity and nondiscrimination policies so that all qualified Americans who wish to serve this nation in uniform may do so without fear of harassment or discrimination. Steps such as these would do a great deal to allay the concerns many in our community have expressed over the last several weeks. I look forward in the weeks ahead to discussing these and other issues important to LGBT service members and their families with Senator Hagel and his designees.