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U.S. Senate Confirms First Openly Gay Army Secretary

Eric Fanning

Eric Fanning takes his post after a delayed nomination.

Eric Fanning has been confirmed by the Senate as the the U.S.'s first openly gay secretary of the Army.

Fanning has previously served as special assistant to Defense Secretary Ash Carter and held several leadership roles in the Air Force and Navy departments.

President Barack Obama nominated Fanning to the post in November, but his confirmation was held up by Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts. Roberts was concerned over rumors that inmates at Guantanamo Bay would be transferred to the states and stalled the nomination, which Republican leaders, such as Sen. John McCain criticized.

After those rumors were squashed, Roberts stepped aside and Fanning's confirmation moved forward.

The U.S. military has made a concerted effort to become more inclusive to LGBTs and women in recent years. Since "don't ask, don't tell" ended in 2011, gay, lesbian, and bisexual soldiers have served openly, and veteran benefits have been extended to same-sex couples following last year's marriage equality court ruling.

However, the Defense Department has been sluggish in removing other discriminatory policies, namely the ban on transgender soldiers. While the Pentagon announced plans to dismantle the policy, military leaders are months behind on a deadline for crafting a new, transgender-inclusive policy.

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