August 6, 2015 at 1:27 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Leader of ‘Don’t Ask’ repeal tapped for Army post
Patrick Murphy, gay news, Washington Blade

Patrick Murphy has been nominated as under secretary of the Army. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The former congressman who took a lead role in “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal was tapped Wednesday for the No. 2 civilian position in the U.S. Army.

President Obama nominated Patrick Murphy, who served in the U.S. House from 2007 to 2011, to become the next under secretary of the Army. The position is subject to Senate confirmation.

In the first year of the Obama administration, Murphy introduced in the U.S. House the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which sought to repeal the 1993 law prohibiting openly gay people from serving in the U.S. military, and built the list of co-sponsors to 192.

In May 2010, Murphy amended a Pentagon spending bill to include “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal. When that strategy was ultimately unsuccessful, Murphy joined then-House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer in passing standalone legislation to repeal the military’s gay ban.

Murphy, an Iraq war veteran, spoke out on the House floor prior to amending the defense authorization bill to include “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal.

“When I served in Baghdad, my team did not care whether a fellow soldier was straight or gay,” he said at the time. “With our military fighting two wars, why on earth would we tell over 13,500 able-bodied Americans that their services are not needed?”

In the same year “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed, Murphy lost his House seat to Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), who currently represents Pennsylvania’s 8th congressional district. Murphy sought to win election in 2012 as Pennsylvania attorney general, but came up short in the Democratic primary.

Matthew Thorn, interim executive director of OutServe-SLDN, praised Murphy upon hearing Obama nominated him for a senior civilian position in the Army.

“There are few words that can describe how much and the extent of what Patrick did for the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,'” Thorn said. “He is a hero for standing up against an injustice that was directed towards tens of thousands of gay and lesbian service members and working tirelessly to ensure that it was corrected. We know that Patrick will go above and beyond for the Army, in this position, as he always has done and we look forward to working with him as under secretary of the army to continue the advancement of LGBT individuals serving in the armed services.”

Upon confirmation, Murphy would replace as interim under secretary of the Army Eric Fanning, an openly gay official who’s held various senior positions at the Pentagon. Fanning is considered the favorite candidate for the nomination to become the next Army secretary, which would make him Murphy’s boss if confirmed.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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