US Army Secretary Eric Fanning: LGBT inclusivity is not a ‘social experiment’
Army Secretary Eric Fanning has hit out at critics who say the US military should not engage in “social experiments” by allowing LGBT people to serve openly.
Speaking at San Diego Pride, as one of the honorary grand marshals, Mr Fanning shut down critics’ arguments that the Army should not be engaging in “social experiments” by including women and LGBT people.
In leading the Pride parade, Mr Fanning became the first ever US Army Secretary to do so.
He said: “Today, when our critics say that the military is not a place for social experimentation, they may be right.”
“But equality and inclusivity are not experiments. They are American values.”
The Army Secretary, who earlier this year became the first out gay man to lead a branch of the US armed forces, went on to note the importance of LGBT inclusivity, addressing the large military population in San Diego.
He said: “For many in our military, Pride in San Diego has special meaning… With their actions, they sent a clear message to our country: that it’s possible to take deep pride in being part of two great families, the U.S. military and the LGBT community.”
Speaking to the Union-Tribune on Friday, Fanning said: “I thought about my own experience when I first went to the Pentagon. I didn’t see anyone else like me in that large building.”
“Each time I advance in [my] career, I get more attention and more people write to me, and I realise how many other people now see something they didn’t see before.”
Mr Fanning also paid tribute to the victims of the Orlando Pulse shooting last month, which left 49 dead and 53 injured.
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“We must respond to acts of cowardice with acts of confidence, with acts of pride in who we are and what we believe,” he said.
Eric Fanning was nominated by President Obama to be the United States Secretary of the Army in November – the first time an openly gay person has taken on the role.
After a hold-up in Congress, he was finally confirmed by the United States Senate on May 17 – less than five years after openly gay people were banned from even serving in the military under ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’.
On finally taking up the position, Mr Fanning quoted Beyonce and thanked his boyfriend.