Log Cabin Slams Fellow GOPer Chuck Hagel in NYT Ad
Officials from the Log Cabin Republicans, the primary organization for LGBT GOPers, took out a full-page ad in last Thursday’s New York Times that sharply criticized potential U.S. Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, who is, in fact, a Republican.
The group pointed to anti-gay remarks Hagel made in 1998, Politico reports, during confirmation hearings for the nation’s first out-gay ambassador, James Hormel. The group also picked up on right-wing criticism of Hagel for allegedly being "soft" on Israeli defense.
"Chuck Hagel: Wrong on gay rights, wrong on Iran, wrong on Israel," the LCR ad reads. "Tell President Obama that Chuck Hagel is wrong for Defense Secretary. Help us create a stronger and more inclusive Republican Party."
It was reported in December that Hagel, former senator of Nebraska, would most likely be President Barack Obama’s choice to be the next Defense Secretary. The Associated Press reported that the Human Rights Campaign called out his anti-gay voting past and said his comments are "unacceptable."
"The next Secretary of Defense must be supportive of open service as well as equal benefits for lesbian and gay military families and Sen. Hagel must address these issues immediately," HRC’s president, Chad Griffin said. "Whoever is selected to be the next Secretary of Defense needs to understand there are clear expectations for progress at the Defense Department and that the president’s views on key issues must be reflected by the secretary."
After Hagel was feeling the heat, he apologized for his statements, AP notes.
"I apologize to Ambassador Hormel and any LGBT Americans who may question my commitment to their civil rights," Hagel said in Friday’s statement. "I am fully supportive of ’open service’ and committed to LGBT military families."
HRC responded and said, "Senator Hagel’s apology and his statement of support for LGBT equality is appreciated and shows just how far as a country we have come when a conservative former Senator from Nebraska can have a change of heart on LGBT issues. Our community continues to add allies to our ranks and we’re proud that Senator Hagel is one of them."
Apparently, Hagel’s apology did not satisfy LCR. The U.K. national newspaper the Guardian attempts to figure out who paid for the ad and points out that the organization is poorly funded. Full-page ads in the NYT are extremely expensive -- more than $100,000.
"LCR - which touts itself as ’the only Republican organization dedicated to representing the interests of LGBT Americans and their allies’ - has virtually no demonstrated prior interest in Israel," according to the Guardian. .The only mention of that country on its entire website is as part of a laundry list of nations which allow gay and lesbians to serve in the armed forces, while its only substantive position on Iran policy is a tepid 2010 statement advocating a single 2010 bill for increased sanctions, something which Obama supported and signed (the group did lend its name to a coalition against Iranian nuclear proliferation.)"
If LRC didn’t do it, who did?
The article then notes that LCR has supported Republicans, like John McCain, Mitt Romney and other politicians that do not fully support LGBT rights, and questions why the group would single out Hagel. It is suggested that neoconservatives were responsible for LCR’s ad and the article says one of their tactics "is to cynically exploit liberal causes to generate progressive support for their militaristic agenda. They suddenly develop an interest in the plight of gay people when seeking to demonize Iran, or pretend to be devoted to women’s rights when attempting to sustain endless war in Afghanistan, or become so deeply moved by the oppression of Muslim factions - such as Iraqi Shia - when it comes time to justify their latest desired invasion."
The Guardian contacted LRC about the ad’s funding and motive. The group’s executive director, R. Clarke Cooper, admitted that the organization did not pay for the ad and that the campaign "is being funded by a number of donors."
Cooper, however, would not reveal any of the donor’s information and would not say if the donors are part of the "pro-Israel" community.
"In other words, whether these donors are simply exploiting gay issues and the LCR to advance an entirely unrelated agenda as a means of attacking Hagel," the Guardian concluded.
Cooper did say, however, that, "LCR is particularly concerned about Chuck Hagel as a potential Defense Secretary because of the role he would play in continuing to oversee the implementation of open service of the military." Cooper did not explain why LRC endorsed Mitt Romney as president as he was opposed to DADT and supported other anti-gay laws.
To make matters more confusing, weeks before the anti-Hagel ad was taken out, Cooper lauded the politician in the New York newspaper Gay City News. "I recall working with Senator Chuck Hagel and his staff during the Bush administration and he was certainly not shy about expressing his criticisms," he said. "But despite his criticisms,Hagel voted with us most of the time and there was no question he was committed to advancing America’s interests abroad. As for his nomination to be Secretary of Defense, it is well worth noting that Senator Hagel is a combat veteran who has hands-on experience in the field. The battlefield is not just theory for him."
Last week, officials from LCR announced that Clarke would be stepping down and Gregory T. Angelo, who supported Newt Gingrich as president soon he signed the National Origination for Marriage’s petition to outlaw gay marriage on the federal level, would take his place as interim head.
"I am both humbled and thrilled to have the support of the Log Cabin Republicans National Board of Directors and to follow in the footsteps of the inimitable Clarke Cooper," Angelo said in a press release. "There has never been a more exciting and historic time to be a gay Republican-with the wind at our backs following four referendum victories for the freedom to marry last November and the United States Supreme Court soon to rule on marriage equality, 2013 could mark a turning point in the fight for equal rights for all."
Even though the Human Rights Commission has accepted Hagel’s apology for his comments during the Hormel hearings, that didn’t satisfy Barney Frank.
The ever-outspoken out-gay congressman from Massachusetts issued a take-no-prisoners press release criticizing Obama’s proposed Defense Secretary’s appointment:
"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."