A Senate committee voted Thursday to
approve the nomination of Eric Fanning to be Army secretary, putting
Fanning one step closer to becoming the first openly gay leader of a
U.S. military service.
President Barack Obama nominated
Fanning in September.
Fanning stepped down as the acting
under secretary of the Army in January. He's previously served as
Air Force under secretary, deputy under secretary of the Navy and
deputy chief management officer of the Navy.
Matthew Thorn, executive director of
the LGBT military group OutServe-SLDN, cheered the move.
“He was nominated for his extensive
25 plus year career within the Department of Defense and the
knowledge that he possess about military policy and national
security,” Thorn told the Washington
Blade. “From his service as the deputy undersecretary and
deputy chief management officer for the Department of the Navy,
deputy director of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of
Mass Destruction Proliferation & Terrorism to most recently
serving as the under secretary of the Air Force, acting U.S.
Secretary of the Air Force and chief of staff to the secretary of
defense his preparedness for this role could not be higher.”
Fanning faces a steep incline in the
Senate, where Senator Pat Roberts, a Republican from Kansas, is
refusing to consider the nominee to protest President Barack Obama's
plan to close Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility.
The nomination reflects a major shift
for the Pentagon, which only four-and-a-half years ago dropped its
“Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy that prohibited openly gay troops
from serving in the military. As a civilian leader, the policy did
not extend to Fanning.