WATCH: Sens. Udall and Gillibrand Grill Hagel on Gay and Lesbian Military Equality

The former Nebraska senator reiterated his commitment to fully implementing repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell,' including extending partner benefits to the families of gay and lesbian service members.

BY Sunnivie Brydum

January 31 2013 1:26 PM ET UPDATED: January 31 2013 8:07 PM ET

In Hagel's prepared opening statements, released in advance of today's confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C., the Republican reiterated his pledge to support gay and lesbian service members and their families to the extent permissable under current law. 

“As I’ve discussed with many of you in our meetings, I am fully committed to implementing the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’" said Hagel, "And doing everything possible under current law to provide equal benefits to the families of all, all our service members."

In a written response to questions posed by the confirmation committee about Hagel's commitment to complete a Pentagon report about military spousal benefits, he promised to move "expeditiously," the Blade reports.

“If confirmed, I will work closely with the Department of Defense civilian and military leadership to move forward expeditiously on this issue and will inform the appropriate Congressional committees of decisions as they are made,” Hagel wrote.

Allyson Robinson, the executive director of OutServe-Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, commended Hagel's stated commitment to equality for gay and lesbian troops and their families.  

“After two years of equivocation and delay by Pentagon leadership, it is gratifying to see Senator Hagel show the kind of clear, unambiguous support for our service members and their families we saw today,” Robinson said. “It is an historic day when issues critical to gay and lesbian service members and their families take center stage in a confirmation hearing for secretary of Defense.”

Tags: Military

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