US: Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel resigns
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, who has pushed forward equal benefits for gay people serving in the military, has announced his resignation.
The former Republican Senator was appointed to his role in 2012 to replace Leon Panetta – who oversaw the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’, which banned openly gay people from serving in the military.
Mr Hagel has made several bold steps towards further equality during his time in office, extending a range of benefits to include same-sex couples and support “the families of all our service members”.
He also indicated that he was “open” to ending the ongoing ban on transgender people openly serving in the military
Announcing Mr Hagel’s resignation, President Barack Obama praised him as an “exemplary Defence Secretary” and “a great friend of mine”. The pair had reportedly clashed over foreign policy.
Gay rights groups had initially expressed reservations about Mr Hagel’s appointment, due to comments he made in 1998, when he described ex-US Ambassador to Luxembourg, James Hormel, as “aggressively gay”.
However, Mr Hormel said he had forgiven Mr Hagel for making the comments, and supported his nomination as defence secretary.
Chuck Hagel said on May: “The issue of transgender is a bit more complicated because it has a medical component to it.
“These issues require medical attention. Austere locations where we put our men and women in many cases don’t always provide that kind of opportunity
“I do think it continually should be reviewed. I’m open to that, by the way.
“I’m open to those assessments because, again, I go back to the bottom line. Every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity if they fit the qualifications and can do it. This is an area that we’ve not defined enough.”