Given the U.S. military’s history of homophobic policies (“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” should immediately ring a bell), no one could imagine the day would come that a president nominates an openly gay man to lead a branch of the military. Well, thanks to President Barack Obama, that day has come.
On Friday, President Obama nominated Eric K. Fanning, an openly gay man, to be secretary of the Army.
“Eric brings many years of proven experience and exceptional leadership to this new role,” the President said in a statement. “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.”
This historic move is one of many steps the Obama administration has taken to advance the rights of the LGBT community in the armed forces. In 2010, the President signed a law ending the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that prohibited gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, and earlier this year, the President moved to allow those who identify as transgender to openly serve as well.
Fanning has served as acting under secretary of the Army since June, and before that, served as chief of staff to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. Fanning also served as under secretary of the Air Force and deputy undersecretary of the Navy.
In a statement, Carter called Fanning an “excellent choice” to lead the Army.
Before Fanning can lead the Army, however, the U.S. Senate must confirm him.
Additionally, although Eric’s nomination represents a step in the right direction, until transgender individuals can openly serve, there are still strides to be made.