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Hagel Vows To Extend Benefits To Gay Military Families

Secretary of Defense

Chuck Hagel

In a letter sent to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel promised to extend military benefits to gay and lesbian military families.

OutServe-SLDN released the letter, which read in part:

“I know firsthand the profound sacrifice our service members and their families make, and if confirmed as Secretary of Defense, I will do everything possible to the extent permissible under current law to provide equal benefits to the families of all our service members.”

Hagel had come under fire from the Log Cabin Republicans for comments he made in 1998 about James Hormel, who was President Clinton's nominee to be ambassador to Luxembourg. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Hagel told a Nebraska newspaper that gays like Hormel should not be allowed to represent the United States:

Ambassadors "are representing America," Hagel told the paper in July 1998. "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."

Now, Hagel's vow to extend benefits to gay and lesbian military families has OutServe-SLDN cheering. Executive Director Allyson Robinson (an Army veteran) said of Hagel's promise:

"Senator Hagel’s commitment is a turning point for our gay and lesbian military families. His promise to grant these service members the family benefits they have earned demonstrates his deepening grasp of the injustice currently being done to them.”

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