WASHINGTON (CBS SF) — President Barack Obama announced Friday the nomination of what would be the first openly gay civilian leader of a U.S. military branch.
Acting Under Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning is being nominated to replace Army Secretary John McHugh, pending congressional confirmation.
“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,” Obama said in an announcement Friday. I look forward to working with Eric to keep our Army the very best in the world.”
If confirmed, Fanning will lead a transitional, budget-tightening phase for the Army after more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Fanning’s nomination is among a series of moves by the Obama administration to further the profile and rights of gays and lesbians in the military and other branches of government, such as proving federal benefits to same-sex partners and ending the 18-year ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military.
Fanning, one of Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s closest advisors, has previously served as Special Assistant to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense. He was Under Secretary of the Air Force from 2013 to 2015 and acting Secretary of the Air Force from June to December 2013.
The Dartmouth College graduate has also served as the deputy under secretary and deputy chief management officer for the Navy.
Fanning, who has no military service, has been involved in LGBT activism and is a former board member of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.
Carlos E. Castañeda is Senior Editor, News & Social Media for CBS San Francisco and a San Francisco native. You can follow him on Twitter or send him an email.