In an exclusive interview with The Today Show this morning, Eric Fanning reflected on becoming the first openly-gay leader of a U.S. military service and the highest-ranking, Senate-confirmed openly-LGBT appointed official.
"I've gotten used to the fact that this is going to be a part of any time I get a new job or do something," he told host Matt Lauer. “And 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 the 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 ago."
Fanning was nominated by President Barack Obama in September and was finally confirmed last month.
"I feel a responsibility as secretary of the Army, not just because of the historical nature of the appointment because I'm gay," Fanning said. "And I take that responsibility very seriously. I grew up in a military family. I have two uncles that went to West Point. And it was absolutely something that I considered, but wasn't allowed to serve and so chose another route."
Fanning’s nomination comes just five years after the historic end of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) law that prohibited qualified LGB Americans from serving in the U.S. armed forces. His confirmation comes as the military is preparing to move forward to lift the ban on transgender service in the military.
"It is the best job that I have ever had — and an incredible honor," Fanning added.