The LGBT community adds another line of visibility: Eric Fanning, has recently become the acting secretary of the Air Force, making him the highest-ranking gay person in the Department of Defense.
Fanning is currently acting both as under secretary (his previous role) and secretary given the retirement of Michael Donley from the post and the fact that President Obama is yet to nominate someone to replace him, according to BuzzFeed.
Before his current job, he had been deputy undersecretary and deputy chief management officer for the Navy since 2009. Fanning is also a former board member of LGBT rights PAC Victory Fund.
Fanning has previously worked for the government in the 1990’s, in the House Armed Services Committee, and then for the Defense Department and the Clinton White House. Even as a civilian employee, he said that working in an environment where “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was in place proved challenging.
“It was very difficult when we were getting to the end of the first two years and it wasn’t clear if we were going to be able to repeal ,” he told the Washington Blade.
While DADT has been repealed, he said he he would like to see openly transgender people be able to serve.
“I think everyone who serves in uniform should have full access to legal benefits, and so DOMA is the main roadblock to that,” Fanning said, making reference to the Defense of Marriage Act.