Barney Frank Speaks Out Against Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary

In 1998, then GOP Senator Chuck Hagel called James Hormel, President Bill Clinton’s choice for U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg, openly, aggressively gay.” He called Hormel’s sexual orientation an “inhibiting factor” that would prevent him from doing “an effective job.”

Fast forward to 2012.

Now that President Obama is considering nominating Hagel as Defense Secretary, and the nasty comment from the past has resurfaced, Hagel has apologized and even President Obama has said he believed that Hagel had “evolved” on the issue.

But Barney Frank’s not having any of the excuses being used by either Hagel or the President and expressed his discomfort and distate with Hagel’s possible nomination in a statement put out by his office:

“Then-Senator Hagel’s aggressively bigoted opposition to President Clinton’s naming the first openly gay Ambassador in U.S. history was not, as Sen. Hagel now claims, an aberration. He voted consistently against fairness for LGBT people and there does not seem to be any evidence prior to his effort to become Secretary of Defense of any apology or retraction of his attack on James Hormel. And to those of us who admire and respect Mr. Hormel, Sen. Hagel’s description of him as aggressive can only mean that the Senator strongly objected to Hormel’s reasoned, civil advocacy for LGBT people.

I cannot think of any other minority group in the U.S. today where such a negative statement and action made in 1998 would not be an obstacle to a major Presidential appointment.”

Unfortunately Barney Frank is retiring from Congress, so he will not have a chance to vote for or against President Barack Obama’s eventual Defense Secretary nominee.

But atleast he got some last licks in.

About Will Kohler

Will Kohler is one of America's best known LGBT historians, He is also a a accredited journalist and the owner of A longtime gay activist Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced on such notable media venues as BBC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The Daily Wall Street Journal, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story. Back2Stonewall has been recently added to the Library of Congress' LGBTQ+ Studies Web Archive. Mr. Kohler is available for comment, interviews and lectures on LGBT History. Contact:

3 thoughts on “Barney Frank Speaks Out Against Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary

  1. Is concern for gay rights *really* driving Barney Frank’s action?

    *Twelve days ago, Barney Frank backed Hagel for Secretary of Defense.*

    [Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who is Jewish, said he did not object to what has become one big point of contention about Hagel: an allusion to the “Jewish lobby,” in reference to advocates for Israel in Congress and elsewhere.
    “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having Portuguese lobbies, Jewish lobbies, Greek lobbies,” Frank said. “I think he’d be very good. … You need someone intelligent to help cut that budget.”]

    What, exactly, changed about Hagel’s 1998 remarks in the last twelve days to make them more egregious? What changed about his voting record in Congress in the last twelve days to make it more egregious?

    Shame on you, Barney Frank. I thought that you had more integrity than this. What was I thinking?

  2. I don’t know what changed Barney Frank’s mind, if indeed he changed it, but I am glad that he is opposing Hagel. Not only did Hagel smear Hormel, but he also opposed repeal of DADT. And, unlike even the egregious Sam Nunn, he did not announce any changed position on DADT over the years until his name was floated as a possible DoD Secretary. The man is clearly an opportunist at best. I, for one, would not trust him to oversee the implementation of equal rights in the military.

    1. Does it matter at all to you that:

      1. Human Rights Campaign demanded that Hagel repudiate his 1998 comment and declare his commitment to LGBT equality, and Hagel then did so, and then Human Rights Campaign welcomed Hagel’s statement and apology?

      2. OutServe also welcomed Hagel’s statement and apology?

      3. Ambassador Hormel accepted Hagel’s apology and endorsed Hagel’s nomination?

      4. We have this account from Steve Clemons, who knows Hagel personally?

      The Chuck Hagel I Know: A Staunch Defender of Gay Rights

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