Hagel asked about gays in the military, gives weak rambling answer (video)

Former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel was asked twice today about gays in the military, and gave answers that sounded somewhat rambling and confused. Which is odd, since he was obviously prepared for these kind of questions after the controversy over the past month regarding his past anti-gay statements while serving in the Senate.

Though many are telling me that this is Hagel – rambling, no matter what the question.

First, Hagel was asked by Democratic Senator Mark Udall of Colorado (one of the gay community’s top allies) about a conscience clause that was inserted in the Defense Bill by the far right in order to undermine the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Hagel’s response was rambling and unclear, at best:

When asked by Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) whether chaplains would be forced to presides over the marriages of gay military members, Hagel said “no,” then got kind of muddled.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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60 Responses to “Hagel asked about gays in the military, gives weak rambling answer (video)”

  1. Sweetie says:

    I’m glad you see my point. How much leeway religions are given is up to whatever social code is currently in operation. Therefore, ordained ministers may be required to “violate the tenets of their faith” if they want to be bigoted toward gay personnel.

    or… if they want to burn crosses on the lawns of black people.

  2. Ninong says:

    If one of your deeply-held religious convictions is that you have a right to keep a harem of up to 140 wives and father children by at least a dozen of them, some as young as 12 or 13 when they gave birth, and keep a stash of illegal weapons on your “religious” property, then you can expect to be served with a search warrant by ATF agents.

  3. Sweetie says:

    “Under our Constitution, we will never require any ordained ministers to violate the tenets of their faith and if that means that they wish to abstain from performing same-sex marriages, then that is their constitutional right.”

    Ask the Branch Davidians how well that worked out.

  4. hollywoodstein says:

    I thought Dems won in November so why nominate another Republican? Oh, Sec Defense, that’s right there are no Dems who can do that job because Democrats suck at all things military and Republicans always get it right. Thanks for reminding the nation Obama. Glad we all voted Democratic for you.

  5. karmanot says:

    Let’s hope

  6. karmanot says:

    Does this have something to do with Area 54?

  7. karmanot says:


  8. karmanot says:

    The best thing about the Hagel hearing was watching Granny McCain strumming his senility like a banjo.

  9. karmanot says:

    His senility is slightly sharper than Granny McCains.

  10. ezpz says:

    You are completely deluded if you think Hagel is anti war. I suspect you love him because you think he hates Israel as much as you do….y’know…the enemy of my enemy thing.

  11. ezpz says:

    And then there’s this little tidbit – which he WON’T have to answer for:

    “…You can be sure of one other thing: Hagel’s military service in Vietnam will be mentioned — and praised….You can also be sure of this: no senator will ask Chuck Hagel about his presence during the machine-gunning of an orphanage in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta or the lessons he might have drawn from that incident.

    Nor is any senator apt to ask what Hagel might do if allegations about similar acts by American troops emerge in Afghanistan or elsewhere. Nor will some senator question him on the possible parallels between the CIA-run Phoenix Program, a joint U.S.-Vietnamese venture focused on identifying and killing civilians associated with South Vietnam’s revolutionary shadow government, and the CIA’s current targeted-killing-by-drone campaign in Pakistan’s tribal borderlands. Nor, for that matter, is he likely to be asked about the lessons he learned fighting a war in a foreign land among a civilian population where innocents and enemies were often hard to tell apart….”


  12. lynchie says:

    Cuts to the military are never going to happen on Obama’s watch.

  13. lynchie says:

    Believe it when I see it.

  14. lynchie says:

    He just wants a good job because lobbying after being Secretary of Defense will make him a multi millionaire. He sounded like he was either drunk or in first stages of Alzheimer’s.

    Is there no other Democrat qualified? Is Hagel the only person in the country who has the supposed ability? He voted for the war and no amount of GOP resistance will convince me that is not a part of military welfare system.

  15. ezpz says:

    “Why do think Obama picked him?”

    Maybe because he enjoys murdering civilians just as much as Obama does…

    “…You can also be sure of this: no senator will ask Chuck Hagel about his presence during the machine-gunning of an orphanage in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta or the lessons he might have drawn from that incident….”


  16. Rosalee Adams says:

    What do you mean a weak rambling statement????
    He was inarticulate about everything
    Sad that THIS is what we have to look forward to to head up Defense Dept.

  17. Ninong says:

    Hagel’s answers weren’t muddled at all and were correct on both points. No one, including military chaplains, can marry a same-sex couple in states where that is against the law. At the present time federal law allows each state to decide that question and state laws apply. If the Supreme Court completely overturns DOMA and goes so far as to require all states to permit legal civil marriages, then things will be different.

    If and when the Supreme Court makes same-sex marriage legal in the entire country, then that would apply ONLY to civil marriages, not religious marriages. It’s not necessary to use a chaplain to get married in a military chapel on a military base. Once same-sex marriages are legal everywhere in the country, then same-sex couples who wish to get married in a military chapel can use a willing military chaplain of their choice or they can use an official authorized to perform marriages. Same-sex marriages have already taken place on military installations in states where that is legal. In all of the cases that I am aware of, the couple chose their own willing chaplain to perform the ceremony.

    Under our Constitution, we will never require any ordained ministers to violate the tenets of their faith and if that means that they wish to abstain from performing same-sex marriages, then that is their constitutional right.

  18. Ken Carlisle says:
  19. karmanot says:


  20. karmanot says:

    Very Like! Except that no serious person expects Obama and team to actually fulfill the substance of their propaganda lies.

  21. karmanot says:

    “So I’m resigned, not furious.” Some might call this a form of Stockholm Syndrome, or at least the mature cynicism that many have when realizing the loss of significant change and full participation in Democracy.

  22. Correction: that their BOSS OBAMA refused to ORDER them to do even though, FIVE YEARS AGO, he promised nondiscrimination policies post repeal if elected. WHERE are our PAID Gay, Inc., advocates when we need them?

  23. Naja pallida says:

    I didn’t call you an Obamabot, I said you were using their go-to excuse for pushing mediocre, and even bad, ideas. If you’re not even going to read, how is it possible to have a discussion?

    Yeah, I suppose my four years of being an almost daily commentator on this site isn’t nearly enough time to see you consistently going out of your way every chance you get to bully anyone who equivocates even a teeny tiny bit on gay rights issues, but when it’s the other way around and you are the one making excuses for someone with a poor record and not much solid to back up why he would make a good candidate except “He’s Republican, so will get Republican votes…”

    If it were my choice, I would have nominated the current Deputy Secretary, who was already confirmed once unanimously, knows the job, and doesn’t come with Hagel’s GOP baggage, or much partisan baggage at all for that matter. Problem there is, he doesn’t have a well-recognized name, so just doesn’t garner the same kind of enthusiasm nor provoke the kind of fight over the issue that Obama was looking for.

  24. MyrddinWilt says:

    Which is why he has the credibility to call for cuts now he is on the other side of the issue.

    The testimony on the sequester was pretty telling. Hagel did not simply say cancel the defense portion of the sequester, he was asking for the ability to chose how the cuts are applied.

    Methinks that Obama is very happy with the sequester and always has been because it is just about the only way to cut the bloated pentagon budget.

  25. ROMI says:

    Thank you.

  26. Skeptical Cicada says:

    You’re serioudly understating Hagel’s anti-war views. The neocons are in an absolute lather over him. So much so that they’re even willing to pose as gay advocates to manipulate progressive opinion.

  27. Guest says:


  28. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Lol!!! I believe that is the first time anyone has ever called me an Obamabot. Still being in diapers when it comes to this site, you apparently don’t know any better. Enjoy dealing with the conflict by imaging that Hagel is a right-winger on war. Unclear why the neocons are fighting so hard to block him.
    Yes, you are dodging. Aware of Use Your Mandate? Any idea how to get a Likud-skeptical Dem past a filibuster? Willing to support the Iran War?

  29. FLL says:

    I’m watching the same two videos as everyone else, and I’m not sure why John described Hagel’s answer to Senator Udall as “rambling and unclear, at best.” Udall’s question to Hagel was:

    “Will you ensure that the DOD in accommodating religious beliefs or matters of conscience does not tolerate discrimination or harm to others?”

    Hagel’s answer to the question, at the :50 mark, was “yes,” and the answer was brief and straightforward, at least I thought it was. I understand that Hagel’s has a past record in support of the anti-gay policies of the Republican Party, and yes, Obama definitely could have made a better choice. However, Hagel’s answer to Udall’s question was clear.

    Neither do I think Hagel’s answer to Wicker, the Senator from Mississippi, was muddled. Hagel said a chaplain didn’t “have to perform a same-sex marriage,” which was Wicker’s question, but then added that servicemen had the right to use any facilities for a same-sex marriage ceremony, linking that to his first answer to Udall.

    On balance, the comments on this page raise good points about Hagel’s support of past anti-gay Republican platforms and the existence of other, better candidates for Secretary of State, but I don’t fault Hagel’s testimony today.

  30. karmanot says:

    You make my case. Thank you.

  31. Skeptical Cicada says:

    I see you’re still pouting. Grow up.

  32. EARTH TO EVERYONE BUT PARTICULARLY GAY MEDIA: we STILL have a SITTING Secretary of Defense. His name is Leon Panetta, and he could order equal treatment for gay and lesbian service members under the law with the stroke of a pen TODAY. He’s had over a year and a half to do that, but has only paid lip service to equality. And his predecessor, Robert Gates, could have set up the policies in anticipation of repeal. WHY didn’t they—and WHY hasn’t their boss the President— who OVER FIVE YEARS AGO when he was yet to be the Party’s nominee promised, if elected, to “make nondiscrimination the official policy of the U.S. military,” and to implement “anti-harassment policies and protocols for dealing with abusive or discriminatory behavior” post repeal—ORDERED them to if he so believed what he said then—and in his Inaugural address two weeks ago? That NO ONE in gay media and NONE of our PAID advocates in Washington are asking those questions, are DEMANDING Panetta and Obama keep their promises NOW rather than engaging in this pointless circle jerk about whether or not his NEXT Secretary of Defense will be ordered to do it, will serve up the Pie in the Sky HE’s promising, too, is incomprehensible.

  33. FLL says:

    Hagel is the nominee for Secretary of Defense. John Kerry is the nominee for Secretary of State.

  34. clarknt67 says:

    I didn’t say it WOULD happen, I said I hope it will.

    I don’t see what good it does at this point to rend our garments over Hagel. He’s a done deal, he is going to be the next Def Sec, whether we like it or not. All we can is hope our worst fears are wrong. And tell him to follow through on his promises to the LGBT community.

  35. Why is the nominee for the position of Secretary of State being asked questions about military matters in the first place? Is it now official that the State Department is just a branch office of the Department of Defence?

  36. Naja pallida says:

    McCain’s importance rests entirely with the fact that he’s happy to go on to any talking head show that will let him espouse his nonsensical drivel. Despite that he’s been on the wrong side of every single major issue of the last decade.

  37. Naja pallida says:

    How am I dodging? He says he’s now against war, but his entire record speaks to the exact opposite. He spent his entire time in Congress siding with the Republicans and George W. Bush on everything, from war to spying on Americans to torture. When he finally did speak out, it wasn’t with votes or bills in Congress. He chose to leave Congress instead of trying to do something about it, because he was afraid of being primaried from the right. Maybe he really is against war now, but the only real evidence we have of that is his word. Which I trust about as far as I can throw him. As for going off to fight Iran… I come from a military family, I probably would have ended up there as a career choice, but I don’t qualify.

    In the end, I don’t think he’s the worst choice, but I also do not believe he is the best either… but your “perfect the enemy of the good” is the exact excuse the Obamabots have been using on everything for the last four years. Including gay rights issues.

  38. karmanot says:

    “You’re making the perfect the enemy of the good.” And you are making a fool of yourself before the better.

  39. karmanot says:

    Insect clicking its wings and rotating it povipositor again—-laying toxic eggs, all sound, insult and fury and no substance—-as usual.

  40. karmanot says:

    Nobody Likuds you Cicada.

  41. karmanot says:

    You spend an undue amount of time herein to rant and scream about every perceived slight to your conceived ideas about GLTBQ civil rights, tossing ‘troll’ about like ashes in the wind and then kiss Hagel’s a** as an anti Likud warmonger.?

  42. karmanot says:

    Exactly, it’s just discouraging to see the Obots scrapping the bottom of the barrel to rationalize this Obama trophy.

  43. karmanot says:

    “And hoping he’ll over-compensate for the leftist fury by actually doing
    stuff for gay and lesbian service members that Gates and Panetta were
    unwilling to do.” Oh yeah, that’s going to happen.

  44. karmanot says:

    I have never understood McCain’s importance, other than being some-kind of dancing propaganda monkey. His pre-prison lack of character and recklessness was only matched by the vindictive irrationality in his political career. McCain’s heroism ended at the front gates of the Hanoi Hilton , where he sold him self to the highest bidder—a right-wing booze merchant, who sold his daughter and launched McCain’s rather mediocre career.

  45. Skeptical Cicada says:

    You’re dodging. When you succeed in blocking Hagel and get a more pro-war Def Sec without the gravitas to stand up to Likud, will you go fight in the Iran War? It’s a very real prospect. Why do think Obama picked him? He’s to the left of Obama on war but can still pull some GOP votes precisely because he’s got GOP ties. A democrat with his views on war would be filibustered in a second.

  46. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Likud much?

  47. Skeptical Cicada says:

    I agree. And when it comes to his willingness to stand up to Likud warmongers, I cheer him loudly! We didn’t spend the last decade pushing to stop Mideast wars to plunge right back into another one because Netanyahu is having a warmongering tantrum.

  48. Naja pallida says:

    But yet he supports consistently raising the Department of War budget, voted to go to war, and hasn’t taken more wars explicitly off the table, dancing around the issue of Iran and Syria instead of giving real answers.

    I ask again, was there really no better choice?

  49. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Since you’re helping the warmongering, right-wing government of Israel and its American enablers, can we count on you to sign up to go fight the Iran War you’re helping bring about? You do realize that all those gay-rights ads being run by the fake gay group Use Your Mandate are a neocon effort to fool you into blocking Hagel because he doesn’t support war, right?

  50. BeccaM says:

    I find that really weird, because Hagel’s record on defense budgets is unrelentingly hawkish, calling always for substantial increases in every part of it.

  51. MyrddinWilt says:

    He is also being hired to take a meat axe to the Defense budget which idiots like McCain and Graham think should become even more bloated.

    The only reason to choose Hagel is that it is going to be really hard to argue when he says that he does not see a need for the pork barel projects that Congress demands.

  52. MyrddinWilt says:

    Oh, now Lindsey Graham can’t understand that the US President runs US foreign policy, not the Senate. So it is entirely consistent to sign a letter to President Clinton urging him to take up an issue with the Russian President but refuse to sign a letter to Putin directly or to the EU or to anyone else.

    I can tell Lindsey Graham the name of a Senator intimidated by the pro Israeli apartheid lobby.

    The idea that my children have the right to Israeli citizenship despite the fact that they have never even been there while a Palestinian born in Jaffa is not is a completely racist policy. It is a bigoted policy. It is an apartheid policy.

  53. He must want the job very badly. Color me undecided about the future of the secretary-designate.

  54. BeccaM says:

    Chuck Hagel was a loyal conservative GOPer for this entire political career, with just one heresy: Daring, after having voted in favor of the Iraq war, to suggest maybe it wasn’t a good idea after all.

    His anti-gay voting record is consistent. He believes in abortion ONLY when a woman’s life is in danger, and does not even carve out a rape and incest exemption (just like all the GOPers these days, huh?).

    His record at VoteSmart.org shows a standard center-right conservative Republican (which means he’s not an extreme-crazy enough one by their standards). He wants a job in a Democratic administration. So now he’s saying stuff he doesn’t actually believe…and hence the rambling answers.

  55. MyrddinWilt says:

    I have been listening and I have formed the informed opinion that every Republican on the committee is (to use the technical term) a totally worthless piece of utter shit.

    The US has more fucking nukes than it needs for any sane purpose. The GOP is arguing over a paper that merely asks if anything bad would happen if they abandoned the land based ICBMs which have virtually no military value and the US only continues to pay for because the Army does not want to feel less important than the Navy or Air Force. Of course not because it makes no military sense to have nuclear weapons in one static location where they can be shot at. That is why the UK and French nuclear deterrents have always been based in submarines as soon as that was possible.

    McCain is totally mad. He thinks that the surge was a success. The outcome of the surge was that over a thousand Us troops died and a half trillion dollars spent to delay the Iranian takeover of Iraq by three years. The critical change in the situation in Iraq was that the opposition to US forces declined after and because the GOP lost the mid term elections. Once the insurgents knew that the US occupation was going to end there was less need to oppose it.

  56. clarknt67 says:

    No. I have no problem with his answer on either question.

    On #1, first, Udall’s question was great, as was his framing, “misguided right to discriminate.” Hagel’s answer seem rehearsed, and yes, pretty vague, but he did call equality “high priority.” I guess we’ll see. But he touched the bases we’d like him to touch. It wasn’t great, it wasn’t bad. It just sounded like talking points he’d been handed.

    I was actually more encouraged by his answer to Wicker’s question. It was framed about “oh those poor persecuted chaplains.” Hagel quickly affirmed “certainly” they have the right to not perform gay weddings. This is asked and answered. It’s a made up imaginary problem.

    But then, Hagel turned the question to affirm gay and lesbian servicemembers have a right to use the FACILITIES of a military base. He could have been more articulate for sure. But, in a way, Hagel went even further in affirming LGBT rights than Wicker’s question asked him to do. Wicker was challenging him to stand up for the poor Christians, but Hagel turned it into standing up for the gay servicemembers.

    Hagel’s far from my idea of an ideal candidate, so I’m not cheering. But at this point, he’s a lock anyone who thinks otherwise is fooling themselves. So I’m resigned, not furious. And hoping he’ll over-compensate for the leftist fury by actually doing stuff for gay and lesbian servicemembers that Gates and Panetta were unwilling to do.

  57. Naja pallida says:

    Hagel is a Republican. Hagel is an anti-gay Republican. Hagel has clearly stated that he hasn’t changed any of his previous stances. So no matter how much he rambles or equivocates, or tries to cover it up with “looking forward, not looking back” language, he has that albatross around his neck. Of course, one would think that a Senate confirmation hearing would be the perfect place for him to clearly state that he believes in equality in the Armed Services, but not for someone who is more interested in politicking than leading.

    I keep saying it every time one of Obama’s new nominees opens their mouth… really, there was no better choice?

  58. jomicur says:

    Weak, rambling, unclear? Sounds like he’ll fit right in with the Obama administration. I can’t remember a time when Carney was asked a question about gay equality and didn’t answer that way.

  59. nicho says:

    And you expected anything more? This guy might as well play for the 49ers.

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