The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed a gay official to the second-highest civilian position within the Air Force.
Eric Fanning was confirmed as Air Force under secretary by voice vote as part of a group of other military nominees. President Obama nominated Fanning for the position on Aug. 1, 2012.
Prior to his confirmation, Fanning served starting in July 2009 as the deputy under secretary and deputy chief management officer for the Department of the Navy.
Fanning reflected on his previous role and said he looks forward to transitioning to work for the Air Force during his confirmation hearing before the Senate.
“I have been immensely proud to serve these last four years with the men and women of the Navy and Marine Corps, and if confirmed, I very much look forward to becoming a part of the Air Force family,” Fanning said. “It would be my honor to play a role in making sure that the best men and women our country has to offer get all the support they need in undertaking the mission of defending our country, a mission for which they freely volunteered.”
As part of senior leadership within the Air Force, Fanning is responsible for recruiting, organizing, supplying and mobilizing the service in addition to other duties.
According to his bio on the Navy website, Fanning has considerable experience working in military affairs. Before his tenure at the Navy, he worked for Business Executives for National Security, a think-tank in D.C., and worked at Robinson, Lerer & Montgomery, a strategic communications firm in New York City.
During the Clinton administration, Fanning was a research assistant with the House Armed Services Committee, a special assistant in the Immediate Office of the Secretary of Defense and associate director of political affairs at the White House. He’s a graduate of Dartmouth College.
In addition to his military career, Fanning has been involved in LGBT acvitism. He’s a former board member of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and served on the board of directors from 2004 to 2007.
Allyson Robinson, executive director of the LGBT military group OutServe-SLDN, praised the Senate in a statement for the confirmation of Fanning.
“This appointment is yet another example of this administration’s commitment to affirming the contributions and service of the LGBT community and underscores the new reality of open gay and lesbian service in our ranks,” Robinson said. “We look forward to working with him to advance the cause of full military equality.”