Five years since the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" in Congress, the U.S. Senate has confirmed the first openly gay Secretary of the Army, Eric Fanning.
"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. "Eric Fanning has spent his career serving this nation with tireless dedication, skill and ability, and as secretary he will bring that same commitment to the men and women of the U.S. Army."
Obama named Fanning, 47, for the position in September, but his nomination was blocked in the Senate due to opposition from Sen. Pat Roberts. The dispute was over the Obama administration's efforts to transfer Guantanamo Bay prisoners to a facility in Roberts' home state of Kansas. Once the Senator learned that the transfer would not be possible, he dropped his opposition and supported Fanning.
The Senate confirmed him at around 5 p.m. by unanimous consent during the roll call vote.
Fanning's resume includes serving as Air Force under secretary, deputy under secretary of the Navy and chief of staff to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.
Fanning's confirmation marks the first time that any openly gay official is the head of a U.S. military branch.
People on social media congratulated Fanning for his historic confirmation.
While the LGBTQ community still faces struggles in the military, Fanning's confirmation is an important step towards tolerance and acceptance.
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