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updated: 12/21/2012 3:20 PM

Hagel apologizes for gay comment

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  • Former Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel

      Former Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- The former U.S. senator believed to be President Barack Obama's leading choice for defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, is apologizing for remarks he made in 1998 about an openly gay nominee for an ambassadorship.

In a brief written statement issued Friday, the Republican said his comments about James C. Hormel were "insensitive" and did not reflect his views.

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In an interview with the Omaha World-Herald in 1998, Hagel said he believed that for a U.S. ambassador, in his words, "it is an inhibiting factor to be gay." He went on to call Hormel "openly, aggressively gay."

Hagel apologized Friday to Hormel and to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender Americans who may question his commitment to their civil rights.

Hagel says he supports "open service" and is committed to LGBT military families.

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