After being delayed for almost 8 months, Eric Fanning has been confirmed as the first openly gay Army Secretary.
Fanning had previously served as undersecretary of the Air Force and acting secretary of the Air Force.
Via NBC News:
Fanning thus becomes the first openly gay leader of any U.S. military service — a milestone not lost on gay rights groups and coming five years after the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," which had prohibited gay and lesbian service members from being open about their sexuality.
"Eric Fanning's historic confirmation today as Secretary of the U.S. Army is a demonstration of the continued progress towards fairness and equality in our nation's armed forces," Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement.
Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., had held the nomination on hold over a dispute regarding Obama administration efforts to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and possibly transfer detainees to the United States.
Roberts dropped his opposition after receiving assurances that detainees would not be transferred to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.
Prior to the vote today, Roberts said, "He will be a tremendous leader as Army secretary and will do great by our soldiers at Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley."
Politicians and advocacy groups alike celebrated the news:
Congratulations to Eric Fanning on historic appointment as the first openly gay @SECARMY. He's capable, experienced & will lead with honor!— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) May 17, 2016
Eric Fanning (@SECARMY) is now the first openly gay @Army Secretary https://t.co/Z0lpygyzhh #EqualityForALL #GoARMY pic.twitter.com/KpJKogarjb— Daniel Beerthuis (@DanielBeerthuis) May 18, 2016
Eric Fanning has spent his career serving this country with tireless dedication and skill. He will do the same as Army Secretary.— Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin) May 17, 2016