Source: Omaha World Herald

By Joseph Morton

WASHINGTON — Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Tuesday hosted a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Month event in the Pentagon auditorium that highlighted just how much the country and its military have changed over the years.

As a Republican senator from Nebraska in 1999, Hagel expressed opposition to repealing the “don't ask, don't tell” policy that barred gays and lesbians from serving openly in uniform. He told the New York Times then that “the U.S. armed forces aren't some social experiment.”

But as he made clear after being nominated to run the Pentagon, Hagel came to support the principle of open service.

“Our nation has always benefited from the service of gay and lesbian soldiers, sailors, airmen and coast guardsmen and Marines,” Hagel said at Tuesday's event.“Now they can serve openly, with full honor, integrity and respect. This makes our military and our nation stronger, much stronger.”

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