Hagel apologizes for disparaging remarks

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., reportedly one of President Obama's top candidates for defense secretary, apologized Friday for disparaging remarks he made about a gay ambassadorial nominee in 1998, seeking to quell a controversy that could derail a potential bid for the Pentagon.

Hagel, a Republican, assailed then-President Clinton's nominee for ambassador to Luxembourg, James Hormel, as "openly, aggressively gay," questioning whether Hormel could "do an effective job."

The comments, which resurfaced this week, drew fierce condemnation from LGBT and progressive groups, who questioned whether Hagel would be able to effectively oversee the repeal of don't-ask-don't-tell.

Hagel, recognizing the threat the rising furor could pose to his potential nomination, released a statement on Friday apologizing for the remarks.

Hagel said his comments 14 years ago in 1998 were insensitive," and do not reflect his views or the totality of my public record,. Hagel said he is fully supportive of 'open service' and committed to gay rights for those in the military.

Hormel, in a Facebook post, commended Hagel for the "significant" apology, adding that if Hagel demonstrates "a commitment to treat gay service members and their families like everybody else, I would support his nomination."

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