Yesterday, the United States Army held an Arrival Ceremony for Eric Fanning, the 22nd Secretary of the Army. Fanning is the first openly gay leader of a U.S. military service and is now one of the highest ranking openly gay officials in the Administration.
In his remarks at the ceremony, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter discussed his relationship with Fanning, noting:
“Secretary Fanning served as my chief of staff when I first became Secretary of Defense. I looked to him to help me recruit and attract a talented and innovative team of civilian and military leaders, many of whom are with us today. And He’s served in senior leadership roles in each of our military departments, including time as Undersecretary of the Air Force, and Acting Secretary of the Air Force, as well as Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy, and that gives him a unique perspective on the pivotal connections that bind our joint force.”
HRC praised President Obama for nominating Fanning last September and worked closely with our allies in the Senate to get him confirmed to serve as Secretary of the U.S. Army. Fanning’s nomination and confirmation comes just five years after the historic end of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) law that prohibited qualified LGB Americans from serving in the U.S. armed forces.
Earlier this month, Fanning reflected on becoming the first openly-gay leader of a U.S. military service and the highest-ranking, Senate-confirmed openly-LGBT appointed official.
"I've gotten used to the fact that this is going to be a part of any time I get a new job or do something," he said in an interview with The Today Show. “And when it first happened I was more bothered by it because I didn't quite have the track record that people know now. And I wanted the focus on qualifications. Now I embrace it. It's so important to so many people, I realize. And something I didn't have 25 years ago."
The ceremony comes as the military is preparing to move forward to lift the ban on transgender service in the military.