The US military has its first openly gay civilian leader after Eric Fanning was appointed as Army Secretary. The Senate unanimously confirmed Mr Fanning, 47, eight months after President Barack Obama nominated him. The main sticking point was apparently not Mr Fanning’s sexual orientation, but a row over Guantanamo Bay. Senator Pat Roberts had been objecting to the confirmation, expressing concern that the Obama administration might try to transfer prisoners from the detention centre to his home state of Kansas.
Eric Fanning’s historic confirmation today as Secretary of the U.S. Army is a demonstration of the continued progress towards fairness and equality in our nation’s armed forces.
Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin
Mr Fanning’s approval marks another milestone for the gay rights movement, five years after the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell”, which banned openly gay and lesbian US service members. Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin said it was “a demonstration of the continued progress towards fairness and equality in our nation’s armed forces”. Defence Secretary Ash Carter also issued a statement congratulating Mr Fanning. Mr Fanning served as the army secretary’s principal adviser on management and operation of the service. He was undersecretary of the Air Force from 2013-15, and was acting secretary of the Air Force for six months. He also worked on the Pentagon chief’s transition.