President Obama just nominated the first-ever openly gay secretary of the U.S. Army

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Just a few weeks after hiring the White House's first transgender employee, President Obama has nominated the first openly gay man to be secretary of the U.S. Army.

Eric Fanning, the former chief of staff to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, has been serving as the acting under secretary of the Army since June.

“Eric brings many years of proven experience and exceptional leadership to this new role,” President Barack Obama 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. I look forward to working with Eric to keep our Army the very best in the world.”


Fanning, 47, served as the Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy/Deputy Chief Management Officer from 2009 to 2013, and for about six months in 2013, Fanning served as Acting Secretary of the Air Force.

"As an openly gay man, his appointment is not only breaking former barriers for the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) community, but it is further evidence of the tremendous progress towards fairness and equality that we continue to make within the Department of Defense," Chad Griffin, president of the LGBT rights advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, said at the time of Fanning's appointment as chief of staff to Secretary Carter.

The Pentagon is now considering opening up service to transgender troops. A report from USA Today's Tom Vanden Brook said could end as soon as next May under a draft timeline on repeal of current policy. Also under consideration is a policy that would allow leaves of absences for transgender troops being treated with hormones or having surgery.


Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.