Matt Lewis

Chuck Hagel and the ‘aggressively gay’ line

There may be legitimate reasons to oppose former Sen. Chuck Hagel’s nomination as Defense secretary, but his 1998 opposition to nominating James C. Hormel as ambassador to Luxembourg should not be among them.

Hagel, of course, has been criticized for referring to Hormel as “aggressively gay.”

While that was an unfortunate choice of words, it’s important to also consider the circumstances. As the Omaha World-Herald reported at the time:

Ambassadorial posts are sensitive, Hagel explained.


“They are representing America,” he said. “They are representing our lifestyle, our values, our standards. And I think it is an inhibiting factor to be gay – openly aggressively gay like Mr. Hormel – to do an effective job.”


Hagel noted a documentary, filmed with money Hormel donated, that showed teachers how they could teach children about homosexuality. He said he had seen another video clip that showed Hormel at what Hagel called an anti – Catholic event in San Francisco, featuring the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence,” a group of male drag queens.


“It is very clear on this tape that he’s laughing and enjoying the antics of an anti – Catholic gay group in this gay parade,” Hagel said. “I think it’s wise for the president not to go forward with this nomination.”


Luxembourg, he noted, is about 95 percent Roman Catholic.

Would a straight nominee who was also a radical liberal, anti-Catholicism activist, be treated with equal skepticism? I would certainly hope so. It’s not about sexual orientation, but rather, appropriateness.