On Friday, President Barack Obama nominated Eric K. Fanning to be secretary of the Army. If the nomination is confirmed, Fanning will become the first openly gay secretary of a U.S. military branch.
The move is another of the many steps that the current administration has taken to advance LGBT rights in the armed forces.
In 2010, the President ended the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy prohibiting gays and lesbians from serving in the military. Earlier this year, the President moved to allow transgendered people to openly serve as well.
CNN reports that Fanning has been serving as the acting undersecretary of the Army since June. Prior to that, he served as Secretary of Defense Ash Carter’s chief of staff. Fanning has also served as undersecretary of the Air Force and deputy undersecretary of the Navy.
After hearing about the nomination, the Secretary of Defense issued a statement calling Fanning an “excellent choice” to lead the Army.
“Eric served as my first chief of staff at the Pentagon, and it has been a privilege over the course of my career to work alongside him and watch him develop into one of our country’s most knowledgeable, dedicated, and experienced public servants,” Carter said.
President Obama’s nomination was also praised by the American Military Partner Association, a support group for the families of LGBT service members.
“We are thrilled to see Eric Fanning nominated to lead the world’s greatest Army,” AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack said in a statement. “History continues to be written, and equality marches forward with the nomination of an openly gay man to serve in this significantly important role. Fanning’s expertise and knowledge within the defense community together with his sensitivity to issues faced by LGBT service members and their families is why we urge the Senate to move quickly to confirm his appointment.”
After he announced the nomination, President Obama issued a statement that said, “Eric brings many years of proven experience and exceptional leadership to this new role, I am grateful for his commitment to our men and women in uniform, and I am confident he will help lead America’s Soldiers with distinction.”