Prominent gay conservative activists and former staffers of the Log Cabin Republicans are condemning attacks on presumptive Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, who is under fire in part for anti-gay comments he made in 1998.
“The attempts to paint him as anti-gay are false. He is not anti-gay. That comes from my experience working at Log Cabin,” Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of GOProud and former policy director at the Log Cabin Republicans, told the Daily Caller.
Hagel, a former Nebraska Republican senator, has been criticized for calling President Clinton’s pick for Ambassador to Luxembourg, James Hormel, “openly and aggressively gay” in 1998.
The Log Cabin Republicans ran a full-page ad against Hagel in the Washington Post Monday, claiming that his apology for the Hormel remark was “too little, too late.”
“That was fifteen years ago, and he has apologized for it. If you were to go back fifteen, twenty years and start pulling comments about gay people from other public officials, you’ll see a whole lot worse,” LaSalvia said.
“Honestly, I’m perplexed by the attack on Hagel. There are plenty of legitimate concerns Republicans could have about Hagel — the Israel issue, that’s all completely in bounds — but to attack Hagel on claims he’s anti-gay is a smear and a damn lie,” GOProud co-founder and former Log Cabin Republicans national political director Chris Barron told TheDC.
“I spent two years as Log Cabin political director. Hagel was one of the few Republicans who had the courage to vote against the federal marriage amendment. On what planet does Hagel now become anti-gay? This line of attack, honestly, makes absolutely no sense to me and is inconsistent with Hagel’s record,” Barron said.
“Folks in the conservative movement running this smear campaign are playing with fire,” Barron said, explaining that by establishing a new precedent by which to judge homophobia, solely in order to explain Hagel, they are opening Republicans up to future attacks.
“Hagel was certainly better on gay issues than Mitt Romney,” Barron said.
“Hagel’s office always had an open door to Log Cabin, and based on my personal experience I would absolutely never use the term ‘anti-gay’ to describe Chuck Hagel,” Barron said.