Chuck Hagel’s First Three Hurdles for Sec of Defense: Gays, GOP and Gaza

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) was nominated by President Barack Obama on Monday as his new Secretary of Defense. Yet the three groups that appear likely to stand in the way of his nomination, not typically known for working together, include gay rights activists, Republicans and pro-Israeli organizations.

Hagel is not the first Republican lawmaker nominated by an incumbent Democratic president. In 1997, former President Bill Clinton nominated retired Sen. William Cohen of Maine to head up the Pentagon and he sailed through an easy nomination process.

However, it seems Hagel will not be afforded the same luxury and here are some of the more obvious reasons.

Gay activists on both sides of the political fence had taken shots at Hagel, mainly for his comments in 1998 when he called Clinton’s choice for U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg, James Hormel, “openly, aggressively gay.” Hagel has recently apologized, saying his remarks were “insensitive.”

Immediately after Obama made it official he was nominating Hagel, the Log Cabin Republicans, a GOP leaning gay-rights organization, took out a full-page ad in The Washington Post opposing the nomination.

The ad also blasts the former Nebraska senator on his support for the Defense of Marriage Act and for his opposition to the military’s 1999 “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

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