The former congressman who took a lead role in “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal was confirmed Friday to the No. 2 civilian position in the U.S. Army.
Just before adjourning at the end of the year, the U.S. Senate approved Patrick Murphy, who served in the U.S. House from 2007 to 2011, as under secretary of the Army by unanimous consent as part of group of six presidential nominees.
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Murphy, an Iraq war veteran, said in an interview with the Washington Blade just before Congress repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” he considered the issue a matter of national security.
“We’re still in Afghanistan and Iraq and we cannot be forcing honorable men and women who are willing to take a bullet to keep our families safe to be thrown out just because they happen to be gay,” Murphy said at the time.
In the same year “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed, Murphy lost his House seat to Rep.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. The former congressman later took a role as a senior national security fellow for the progressive think-tank Center for American Progress.
Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, said in a statement “the Army and the nation are lucky” to have Murphy’s leadership.
“When he was a member of Congress, CAP was proud to work with Rep. Murphy on issues he championed, such as the Affordable Care Act, and as he led the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,'” Tanden said. “As a senior fellow, Murphy contributed greatly to our work by leading on issues that affect 21st-century fighters, and he will no doubt do the same for the Army. Murphy served the country twice, first in the Army and later as the first Iraq War veteran to serve in Congress, and we know he will bring the same service to the Army once again.”
The White House had no comment Sunday on the confirmation of Murphy, who was nominated by President Obama in August.
Still pending before the Senate is the nomination of Eric Fanning as Army secretary, who would be the first openly gay person confirmed to the role. Fanning is currently serving as acting Army secretary. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) has placed Fanning’s nomination on hold as a result of comments Obama made on closing Guantanamo Bay detention camp.