Eric Fanning got a hug from US Defense Secretary Ash Carter this week after swearing him in as the country’s first openly gay Secretary of the Army.
Before administering the oath Wednesday (18 May), Carter said he had worked alongside Fanning for many years and watched him develop into one of the country’s ‘most knowledgeable, dedicated and experienced civil servants.’
He added that Fanning ’embodies the kind of strong and steady leadership and civilian commitment to our men and women in uniform that have made our military the finest fighting force the world has ever known.’
Fanning gave thanks in his post-swearing in remarks to those who had helped him to get to the historic day.
‘I don’t know why I’ve been lucky enough to be standing here with this appointment and this job,’ he said.
‘But I do know that I could not have done it alone, I could not have gotten here alone.’
Fanning was nominated by President Barack Obama back in September but his confirmation process suffered several delays.
He was finally confirmed unanimously this week.
‘It has been a long process to get here, one that I don’t think even the writers from House of Cards could have scripted if they tried,’ Fanning said.
His nomination last fall came just five years after the historic end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT). That law prohibited gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans from serving in the US armed forces openly.
The military is now preparing to move forward to lift the ban on transgender service in the military.