Mark E. Green, who President Trump nominated last month to be Secretary of the Army, withdrew from contention for the position on Friday following a month-long campaign by LGBT advocacy groups to publicize his anti-LGBT record as a Tennessee state senator.
His withdrawal came less than a week after the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group, said it generated 6,800 calls to Congress from constituents strongly opposing Green’s nomination.
“Since Trump’s announcement of Green’s nomination, HRC worked diligently to expose Mark Green’s shameful anti-LGBTQ record and rhetoric and the danger his nomination posed to LGBTQ service members and their families,” HRC said in a statement.
“We thank the many senators, from both parties, who expressed concerns about the nomination,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “His nomination was a clear indication of Donald Trump’s lack of judgement and failure to be a president of all Americans,” Griffin said.
Within the past two weeks at least five Democratic senators announced they would vote against the Green nomination, including Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)
Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee which would have had to approve the nomination, expressed concern about Green’s statements that were considered hostile to LGBT people and Muslims.
And in a development that startled political observers, a Pentagon spokesperson on Friday declined to say whether Secretary of Defense James Mattis still supported Green’s nomination.
Green, a physician, is a West Point graduate and decorated Iraq War veteran. His controversial views on LGBT issues emerged during his tenure as a State Senator in Tennessee. Among other things, he has described transgender people as being mentally disordered.
He has spearheaded anti-transgender bathroom legislation and backed a “religious freedom” bill, approved by the Tennessee Legislature that would allow mental health professionals to refuse treatment for LGBT patients based on religious objections.
“Tragically, my life of public service and my Christian beliefs have been mischaracterized and attacked by a few on the other side of the aisle for political gain,” Green said in a statement on Friday. “While these false attacks have no bearing on the needs of the Army or my qualifications to serve, I believe it is critical to give the president the ability to move forward with his vision to restore our military to its rightful place in the world.”
In response to a question by the Washington Blade on whether Trump asked Green to withdraw his nomination, a White House official said Green made his own decision.
“The Army secretary needs strong bipartisan support and when Dr. Green recognized he would no longer have this, he made the decision based on what he thought was best for the Army,” the official said.
Matt Thorn, executive director of OutServe-SLDN, the nation’s largest organization representing LGBT people in the military, also claimed victory, saying, “Serving as Secretary of the Army is an incredible and vital role to the success of our modern military.”
“Mark Green did not live up to the duty and honor that is expected of an individual serving in such a role,” Thorn said in a statement. “Mr. Green has better served the Army with his withdrawal than he would have as Secretary.”
Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson contributed to this report.