“It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get.” ~ Confucius
Weeks after his confirmation as the first-ever openly gay Army secretary, Eric Fanning has created a video celebrating June as Pride month on behalf of the U.S. Army. In the aftermath of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, Fanning recalls that just four years ago the Pentagon hosted its first official celebration commemorating Pride for its service members and Defence Department officials.
“We’ve grown stronger as a military, and as a nation, as we’ve worked to be more inclusive and open up opportunities for individuals who previously didn’t have them, opportunities for people to be part of the greatest mission there is: Defending our nation’s security,” Fanning said.
Ticking off progress in implementing racial integration after World War II, allowing openly gay people to serve and permitting women in combat, Fanning hints at removing another barrier in the armed forces — the ban on openly transgender service — in the time ahead.
“As we continue to open up opportunities for even more Americans, we get closer to the full American Dream that we represent and protect,” Fanning said. “The threats we face as a nation are growing more complex, and we are better open to meet those challenges in we pull from the best all our country has to offer.”
The Pride video comes on the heels of an interview in which Fanning participated on the “Today Show” with Matt Launer, who asked the secretary if he appreciates being referred to as the first openly gay Army secretary, or would prefer that wasn’t the case.
“I’ve gotten used to the fact that this is going to be a part of anytime I get a new job or something,” Fanning said. “When it first happened, I was more bothered by it because I didn’t quite have the track record that people know now, and I wanted to focus on qualifications. Now I embrace it. It’s so important to so many people, I realize, and something I didn’t have 25 years.”
Transgender people are currently barred from military service as a result of medical regulation. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter has ordered a review of the policy with regard to implementing open service, but it appears to have stalled out at the Pentagon.
In an interview with the Washington Blade in 2013, Fanning became the first senior defence official to voice support for openly transgender service. His uniform counterpart, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, is not on record with that view and is quoted in a recent New York Times article as citing “serious significant issues need to be completely vetted and studied.”
Article by Chris Johnson posted June 3, 2016 for The Washington Blade