January 7, 2013
Republican opposition to a Democratic president's nominee based on criticism of the nominee's anti-LGBT record is unprecedented — and says as much about the dramatic gains made by advocates in recent years as it does about the complex position the Republican party finds itself in on LGBT issues at the start of 2013. A portion of the opposition to Monday's nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel to serve as secretary of defense is based on his past opposition to LGBT equality issues — including his opposition to Clinton nominee James Hormel in 1998 for being "aggressively gay" and his support in 1999 for the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. The Republican use of anti-LGBT views to tarnish a Democratic administration's nominee reveals something that many Republican leaders have begun to say in private: Active support for LGBT rights is on the verge of becoming a default, mainstream position — even if the Republican Party hasn't (yet) arrived there.