WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's leading choice to head the Pentagon, former Sen. Chuck Hagel, issued an apology Friday for "insensitive" comments he had made about gays.
Hagel's apology came a day after the country's leading gay rights organization, the Human Rights Campaign, described the former Nebraska Republican's past statements and record as "unacceptable."
The flash point was a 1998 statement opposing the nomination of a gay philanthropist, James Hormel, to be ambassador to Luxembourg. Hagel said an "openly aggressively gay" diplomat might be an ineffective representative of American values.
"My comments 14 years ago in 1998 were insensitive," Hagel said in a statement issued by his office Friday. "They do not reflect my views or the totality of my public record, and I apologize."