DENVER — Coloradans for Freedom, a conservative gay rights organization, has called on Colorado U.S. Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet to oppose former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel’s nomination as Secretary of Defense.
Hagel has been under fire from gay rights activists for comments he made during the confirmation hearings of Ambassador James Hormel in 1998, where he criticized Hormel for being “openly, aggressively gay.”
“If Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall vote to confirm Chuck Hagel, it will send a clear and unmistakable message that intolerance and discrimination are just fine, as long as you’re one of the president’s men,” said Mario Nicolais, spokesman for Coloradans for Freedom. “Sen. Hagel has been awful on issues of same-sex equality, and even worse on central questions of defense.”
Coloradans for Freedom was formed in 2012 to urge Republicans to support civil union legislation and includes a number of high profile GOP leaders and operatives, including State Senator Ellen Roberts and former State Rep. Rob Witwer.
As has been reported by The Observer, there has been a striking disconnect between gay rights activists and leaders on the left. Whereas grassroots liberal activists ‘openly and aggressively’ oppose Hagel’s nomination, there has been a stunning silence on the part of liberal gay rights leaders.
Not so with conservative gay rights leaders.
Coloradans for Freedom’s statement in opposition to Hagel’s nomination makes it the second conservative Colorado gay rights organization to come out against Hagel, after the Colorado chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans blasted Hagel for his previous anti-gay comments.
Former Republican State Rep. BJ Nikkel, who flipped her vote in 2012 to vote for civil unions against the wishes of party leadership, has also urged Senators Bennet and Udall to oppose Hagel’s nomination on equal rights and defense policy grounds.
Despite this rising tide of gay rights supporters in Colorado opposing Hagel’s nomination, liberal gay rights leaders in the state have remained silent.