U.S. Senate appoints first openly gay army secretary
A United States politician has broken another barrier for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transexual (LGBT) community, after being appointed as the first ever openly gay secretary of the US Army.
The post was awarded to Eric Fanning on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila), after receiving a unanimous voice vote from the US Senate, as per reports from The Huffington Post.
Prior to his designation, he previously filled a number of senior positions in the Department of Defense, including acting undersecretary of the Army, special assistant to Defense Secretary, Ashton Carter and undersecretary of the Air Force.
U.S. President Barack Obama nominated Fanning as early as September of last year, according to the report, but his confirmation was delayed because of politics.
Senator Pat Roberts decided to put Fanning’s promotion on hold in November, over his opposition of the President’s push to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and transfer prisoners to facilities in the United States.
The Pentagon, meanwhile, alleviated Roberts’ concerns in January, after the Kansas Senator said he has gotten the “assurances he needs” about Guantanamo and was ready to release his hold on Fanning.
“My issue has never been with Mr. Fanning’s character, his courage or his capability,” said Roberts, who personally congratulated Fanning on Wednesday morning about the promotion. “He will be a tremendous leader.”
Meanwhile, several gay rights groups expressed joy upon Fanning’s appointment.
“Eric’s sexual orientation has absolutely no bearing on his ability to do this job; nor was it the reason for his nomination,” Matt Thorn of OutServe-SLDN, which advocates for LGBT military personnel, told Huffington Post.
“But this milestone of having an openly gay individual in this high level position within the Department of Defense will help to continue to set a tone of understanding and respect for the LGBT community throughout the armed services.” Khristian Ibarrola
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