Showing posts with label Gay Army. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Army. Show all posts

January 23, 2018

2 Army Captains Make History At West Point by Getting Married There





"The New York Timeson Friday
He remembered thinking, “this guy has a lot of guts, and he’s kind of cute, too.” (And both, now active-duty Apache helicopter pilots, were in the Army.)'  Tweeter


Two Army captains who met in the “don’t ask, don’t tell” era of the military, became the first active-duty, same-sex couple to get married at West Point when they exchanged vows last weekend.

Capt. Daniel Hall, 30, and Capt. Vinny Franchino, 26, both Apache helicopter pilots, were married at the New York military academy’s picturesque chapel, the New York Times reported on Friday.

The couple met in 2009 when Hall was a senior and Franchino was a freshman. At the time, former President Bill Clinton’s policy, “don’t ask, don’t tell” was in effect, barring homosexual or bisexual members of the military from disclosing his or her sexual orientation and from speaking about homosexual relationships. 

“We couldn’t tell the truth for fear of what would happen to us,” Franchino told The Times. “So we put it in our minds that we were never going to say we were gay, we were never going to get made fun of, and we were certainly never going to get kicked out of the Army.”

Congress repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell” in September 2011, clearing the way for the pair the pair to come out and go on their first date, which happened in 2012. 

“That’s where some guy called us both faggots,” Franchino told The Times.

They then found out that Hall was being deployed to South Korea with his Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopter and began dating other people, but eventually got back together.

Soon enough, the pair were walking down the aisle of West Point’s chapel donning their pressed blue formal uniforms, reading their vows, and ducking under a saber-arch salute as an officially married couple.

Franchino said that although he’s been through a lot with his new husband, nothing was worse than when he had to hide his identity.

“We’ve experienced everything from people feeling awkward around us to being called faggots while holding hands and walking down the street, stuff like that,” Franino said. “But despite what we’ve been through, nothing was worse than having served during the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ years.”


June 16, 2017

Gay General: 'Gay Rights have also increased the Military's Readiness'




 Army Brigadier General Tammy Smith, right, with her wife, Tracey Hepner.Servicemembers Legal Defense Network




The first openly gay general in the U.S. military said Thursday at a pride event that granting more rights to the LGBT community has boosted the military’s ability to fight.
Army Maj. Gen. Tammy Smith delivered a speech at the Dragon Hill Lodge on the Army’s main base in Seoul, South Korea, in which she stated that military readiness depends on having access to the best talent America has to offer, Stars and Stripes reports.
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — The U.S. military's first openly gay general says advances in granting rights to the military’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community have increased the ability “to fight tonight” in South Korea.

Maj. Gen. Tammy Smith, the 8th Army’s deputy commander for sustainment, spoke Thursday at the LGBT Pride observance on the main Army base in Seoul — only the second time the event has been held in a reflection of the hard-won gains for gays in the military.

“To be ready to fight tonight, you know, we’ve got to be able to access the potential of our entire force,” Smith said in remarks in a ballroom at the Dragon Hill Lodge. “We are competing with corporate America for talent and we must demonstrate that we value talent regardless of the demographic that it comes from.”

In a milestone for gay rights, Smith became the first general officer to come out when she was promoted in 2012, less than a year after the controversial don’t ask, don’t tell law was repealed.

Her appearance took on added significance in South Korea, where the national military has recently been accused of targeting gays for arrest. Homosexuality is not illegal in the conservative country, but it is banned in the military and publicly frowned upon.
Navy Lt. Simon Kwak, a Korean-American from Summit, N.J., said pride celebrations help increase the visibility of gay rights on the divided peninsula.

“I believe USFK is setting an example,” he said but expressed concern the message isn’t being transmitted off post. “We definitely need to make sure the (South Korean) public knows that it’s very important to us and the alliance,” he said.

Smith outlined her personal journey that underscored the tremendous hurdles the LGBT community faced in the U.S. military as well. The Defense Department prohibited gays from joining the military in the early ‘80s, and Smith said the passage of don’t ask, don’t tell in 1993 actually seemed like progress to many.

“For the first 25 years of my career I not only didn’t have a full voice at the table, I could be fired for speaking at the table,” she said during the ceremony, which was hosted by the 1st Signal Brigade.

“We were willing, more than willing, to set aside who we were in order to live the life that this uniform represented and the values that it represented. We did this because we loved our country,” she added.

But the situation changed after she met her future wife, Tracey Hepner, and “it became harder and harder to serve,” she said, describing how the two women would have to pretend not to know each other in public.

She went so far as to seek retirement until she heard the then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen speak out against the don’t ask, don’t tell policy in 2010.

“For the first time in my life, a senior leader serving said that my service was as valued as any other person … and in hearing those words he gave me hope,” she said.

Smith was serving in Afghanistan when the don’t ask, don’t tell law was repealed on Sept. 20, 2011. She remembers feeling like “the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders” but noticing it was otherwise just another day as soldiers went about their missions in the war zone.

“While everything had changed for me and people living in my circumstance nothing had changed for the military,” she added. “We’re first and foremost, Tracey and I, a military family that happens to be gay, not a gay family that happens to be in the military.”

The initial announcement about plans for Smith to speak at the LGBT ceremony drew several negative remarks that have since been deleted from Yongsan Garrison’s Facebook page.

Smith said she was disappointed by the reaction but also saw that as proof that she needs to continue to speak publicly.

“I know that we’re better than that,” she said after greeting soldiers, some with tears in their eyes as they thanked her for setting an example, following the event. “They need to know that there are role models throughout the ranks … that they can look up to.”

Smith also welcomed the fact that South Korea’s government had signed onto a U.S. decision to designate the country a post approved for same-sex couples.

“By making that change they have simply increased the readiness of USFK by allowing military families to remain together, all military families, regardless of orientation,” she told Stars and Stripes.

Capt. Trey Robertson, 26, of Charleston, S.C., called Smith “the poster child” for gay rights in the military.

“There’s always the danger of there being negative role models and thankfully when there’s somebody like her willing to take the mantle, then we’re always guaranteed to have good leadership,” he said. “It’s a very different Army than when I showed up in 2008.”
JONAH BENNETT
National Security/Politics Reporter

gamel.kim@stripes.com
Twitter: @kimgamel
  

June 3, 2016

The New Gay Secretary of the Army Speaks Out


                                                                         

Army Secretary Eric Fanning, the first openly gay leader of any U.S. military branch, says he now embraces the historic role that he once felt uneasy about.

"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 TODAY's Matt Lauer in an exclusive interview that aired Thursday.
"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," he said. "It's so important to so many people, I realize. And something I didn't have 25 years ago."

"It is the best job that I have ever had — and an incredible honor," Fanning added.

The Senate confirmed Fanning's nomination last month, a move that came five years after Congress repealed the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that had banned openly gay service members from serving in the U.S. military if they acknowledged their sexual orientation. The policy had been in place since 1994 and played a big role in some of Fanning's career choices.

RELATED: Welcome to NBC OUT — elevating the conversation around LGBTQ news

"I was first in this building in the Clinton administration as a 24-year-old junior aide and I ended up leaving, because I didn't see that there was a future for me as an openly gay man," he said. "And so to be able to come back in this job is beyond what I had ever imagined."

While serving in the Obama administration, Fanning has been the acting secretary of the Air Force and deputy undersecretary of the Navy. He also served as special assistant to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.

"I feel a responsibility as secretary of the Army, not just because of the historical nature of the appointment because I'm gay," he 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."

"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," he said. "It's so important to so many people, I realize. And something I didn't have 25 years ago."

"It is the best job that I have ever had — and an incredible honor," Fanning added.

The Senate confirmed Fanning's nomination last month, a move that came five years after Congress repealed the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that had banned openly gay service members from serving in the U.S. military if they acknowledged their sexual orientation. The policy had been in place since 1994 and played a big role in some of Fanning's career choices.

RELATED: Welcome to NBC OUT — elevating the conversation around LGBTQ news

"I was first in this building in the Clinton administration as a 24-year-old junior aide and I ended up leaving, because I didn't see that there was a future for me as an openly gay man," he said. "And so to be able to come back in this job is beyond what I had ever imagined."

While serving in the Obama administration, Fanning has been the acting secretary of the Air Force and deputy undersecretary of the Navy. He also served as special assistant to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.

"I feel a responsibility as secretary of the Army, not just because of the historical nature of the appointment because I'm gay," he 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 tenure could be a brief one. Technically, he only has eight months of job security since the next president will get to select a new secretary of the Army.

"I think the service secretaries are just amazingly rewarding jobs. That said, January 21st, I imagine myself on a beach someplace," he quipped.

Asked if he would be willing to repeat the arduous Senate confirmation procedure in the next administration for a promotion — to Secretary of Defense — Fanning said it's too soon to imagine the scenario.

“Right now, I can't imagine going through the process again," he said.

Eun Kyung Kim
Today

May 19, 2016

It Happened: The1st Openly Gay Secretary of the Army Gets Confirmed



                                                                       
Eric Fanning
                                                                          
In January of this year, Eric Fanning testified before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on his nomination to be the next secretary of the Army. The line of questioning from lawmakers was standard for hearings with military officials these days. Is the United States winning the war against ISIS? How long until Iraqi troops regain control of Mosul? What’s the status of the military’s plan to integrate women into combat roles?

As with any job interview, Fanning’s life outside of work didn’t come up. But that omission is what made the Senate’s decision to confirm Fanning as the 22nd Army secretary this week such a historic moment: Fanning is now the first openly gay leader of a U.S. military service, and the highest-ranking openly gay Pentagon official in the country’s history.

The Senate confirmed Fanning by unanimous voice vote on Tuesday, eight months after President Obama nominated him to replace John McHugh, who held the position for six years. When McHugh left in November, Fanning was named acting secretary. But Senator John McCain, the Republican from Arizona and chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, argued Fanning should not serve in the job while his confirmation was pending, and he resigned in January, just over a week before his confirmation hearing. The Senate Armed Services Committee voted to move Fanning’s nomination forward in March, but it was stalled until this week for reasons unrelated to the job. Senator Pat Roberts, the Republican from Kansas, had placed a hold on Fanning’s nomination as he sought assurances from Obama administration officials that they would not move any Guantanamo Bay detainees to Fort Leavenworth, in his home state. Roberts said Tuesday he had received them from Robert Work, the deputy defense secretary.

“Practically speaking, the clock has run out for the president” to transfer prisoners out of Guantanamo, said Roberts in a speech on the Senate floor. Roberts said Fanning “has always had my support for this position.”

“My issue has never been—let me make that very clear—with Mr. Fanning’s character, his courage, or his capability,” he said. “He will be a tremendous leader.”

LGBT groups and their supporters praised the confirmation Tuesday. “Eric Fanning’s historic confirmation today as Secretary of the U.S. Army is a demonstration of the continued progress towards fairness and equality in our nation’s armed forces,” said Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay-rights organization in the U.S. “History was made today,” said the 83-member Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus in a Facebook post. “We’ve come a long way from don’t ask, don’t tell.” Fanning, on his official Twitter account, @SECARMY, retweeted a congratulatory message from Ellen DeGeneres that read, “5 years & we’re already running the place.”

In 2011, Congress repealed the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that since 1994 banned openly gay men and women from serving in the U.S. military and forced LGBT service members to hide their sexual orientation.

Fanning has never served in the military, but the Army secretary is a civilian position. Fanning has held several senior positions at the Pentagon, including acting under secretary of the Army, under secretary of the Air Force, and deputy under secretary of the Navy. One of his first jobs in Washington was as a staffer on the House Armed Services Committee.

May 16, 2016

Only ONE Senator Stalling Confirmation of Gay Man for Secretary of Army



It's been eight months since President Barack Obama nominated Eric Fanning to become secretary of the Army — the first openly gay man to be recommended to that branch's highest ranking civilian position. 
Since then, he's no closer than he was months ago to a confirmation. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, is holding up Fanning's confirmation because the lawmaker wants Obama to promise not to move Guantanamo Bay detainees to the Fort Leavenworth, Kansas military installation. 




Acting Secretary of the Air Force, Eric Fanning USAF

"Let me be very clear on this — as a veteran, a Marine — I support Mr. Eric Fanning for this post," Roberts said on the Senate floor late last month. "If the White House calls and assures me that terrorists held at Guantanamo will not come to Ft. Leavenworth, I will release the hold - immediately."  
White House officials suggested Roberts is grandstanding. 
"It is hard to imagine that Senator Roberts takes this particularly seriously," White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters in a press briefing last month. "You may recall the last time that anybody has talked about Senator Roberts was when he filmed a video of himself crumbling up the president's plan to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and throwing it in a wastebasket. So maybe he relishes the opportunity to be before the camera, but it's not apparent that he takes this critically important national security issue all that seriously." 
The standoff stems from the president's announcement of a long-anticipated pitch to Congress in February to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Keeping the prison open, the president said, is "contrary to our values." 


Image: Pat Roberts


Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, left, answers a question during a debate with independent candidate Greg Orman listens during a debate at the Kansas State Fair Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, in Hutchinson, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) Charlie Riedel / AP

"It's been clear that the detention center at Guantanamo Bay does not advance our national security," Obama said from the Roosevelt Room at the White House earlier this year. "It undermines it." 
The administration is weighing 13 locations across the country, including seven existing prison facilities in Colorado, South Carolina and Kansas and six additional sites on current military bases. Officials have said the plan doesn't highlight a preferred site. 
 The response — especially from Republicans in Congress — was swift and critical. 
Roberts who has represented Kansas for nearly two decades, and lawmakers from Colorado and South Carolina has been vocal in objecting to moving Guantanamo detainees to their states. 
Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, chairman of House Armed Services Committee, sent the president a letter outlining the details he expected to see in any closure plan. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the chamber floor and said the president was fixed "on one matter by one campaign promise he made in 2008." 
 Obama Submits Plan to Close Guantanamo Bay 3:51
However, Roberts took his opposition a step further. 
"With this hold, I have used one of the tools afforded to me as a U.S. Senator, and I will continue to do everything in my power to fulfill my obligations to protect the national security of the United States. It is what Kansans expect and demand of me," Roberts said on the Senate floor last month. 
In March he introduced a Senate resolution rejecting any efforts to transfer detainees from Guantanamo Bay to American facilities. 
The impasse remains despite the efforts of Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee — who calls Roberts a "good friend" — to move the process along, 
Late last month an exasperated McCain took to the Senate floor and begged his colleague to lift his hold. 


Image: U.S. Republican Senator McCain speaks during a news conference in Jerusalem


U.S. Republican Senator John McCain speaks during a news conference in Jerusalem January 3, 2014 AMMAR AWAD / Reuters

"It is not fair to the men and the women of the United States Army to be without the leadership of a secretary of the Army," McCain said on the Senate floor. "Mr. Fanning is eminently qualified to assume that role of Secretary of the Army. So I would urge my friend and colleague to allow me to… to not object to the unanimous consent that I am just proposing." 
Roberts remains unmoved. So does the White House. 
"Mr. Fanning is somebody that has extensive experience at the Department of Defense," Earnest told reporters during a briefing last week. "He's served in a number of roles there. And he would bring that experience and that judgment to the secretary's office. The president believes that he is exactly the right person for the job. And its unconscionable for Republicans to continue to block his nomination for no good reason."
Posted as written by by 

September 19, 2015

Pres.Obama NominatesFirst Openly Gay Secretary of the Army


                                                                         
Eric Fanning Historic Gay Under Secretary of the AF Now Nominated as Secretary of the Army

President Obama, in a historic first for the Pentagon, has chosen to nominate Eric Fanning to lead the Army, a move that would make him the first openly gay civilian secretary of one of the military services.

Fanning’s nomination is the latest in a series of actions taken by the administration to advance the rights of gays and lesbians throughout the federal government. The Obama administration has overhauled internal policies to provide benefits to same-sex partners, appointed gay men and lesbians to the executive branch and the federal bench and ended the 18-year ban on gays serving openly in the military.

Fanning, who must still be confirmed by the Senate, has been a specialist on defense and national security issues for more than 25 years in Congress and the Pentagon. As Army secretary, he would be partnered with Gen. Mark Milley, who took over as the Army’s top general in August. Together the two men would assume responsibility for the Pentagon’s largest and most troubled service.

“Eric brings many years of proven experience and exceptional leadership to this new role,” Obama said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Eric to keep our Army the very best in the world.”

The Army, which swelled to about 570,000 active duty troops, has shed about 80,0000 soldiers from its ranks in recent years and plans to cut 40,000 more over the next few years. Those planned cuts would shrink the service to its smallest size of the post-World War II era.
Battered by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has had to deal with a spike in suicides as the wars drew to an end and has struggled at times to provide the war wounded with the care they need to heal.

Recently, the Army’s outgoing top officer, Gen. Ray Odierno, said that tight budgets and the ongoing strain of 14 years of war had badly degraded the Army’s readiness to fight and that only one-third of its brigades were prepared to deploy to a war zone, the lowest readiness rate in decades.

Fanning’s role as Army secretary would give him influence over the generals the Army selects to rebuild the service after a long stretch of counterinsurgency wars in which soldiers dismounted from their tanks and armored vehicles and found themselves leading foot patrols through remote villages.

                                                                     
                                                                        

Much of Fanning’s time in the Pentagon has been overseeing massive ship and aircraft programs. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter tapped Fanning last year to oversee his transition team as he moved into the Pentagon’s top job.

Fanning served briefly as acting Air Force secretary and has been acting undersecretary of the Army since June 2015.

“He understands how the Pentagon works and how to get things done in the Pentagon,” said Rudy de Leon, who was deputy defense secretary in the Clinton administration. “He knows what works and what doesn’t work” inside the federal government’s largest bureaucracy.

Fanning would play a key role in helping the Army, which has struggled to field new combat systems amid the strain of fighting two wars, to upgrade aging tanks, armored personnel carriers and helicopters. Since 2000, the Army has been forced to cancel virtually all of its major new weapons programs because they ran over budget or didn’t perform as expected.

 LGBT issues are advancing by the day in the United States, and with it, there’s a growing class of Washington power players. Here is 21 of the most influential openly gay, lesbian and bisexual people working in the capital, part of a list as compiled by the National Journal.
New equipment for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, like special armored vehicles designed to resist blasts from roadside bombs, had to be developed outside of the traditional procurement channels.

“Eric is taking over at a critical time for the Army,” de Leon said “The Army is still living off equipment from the Reagan years.”


Greg Jaffe covers the White House for The Washington Post, where he has been since March 2009.

June 19, 2015

Gay Chief of Staff Next in Line for Army Secretay


Eric Fanning

As you read this story I would like you to think of DADT (Don’t Ask don’t tell) of the other day, then be grateful if you can of the US President who fast track all these changes by many years.

Eric Fanning, currently chief of staff to US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, is the leading candidate to replace John McHugh as the next Army secretary, sources said.
McHugh, who has been in the post since 2009, announced today he will be leaving office no later than Nov. 1.
"No selection has been made," said Pentagon spokesman Brent Colburn. "This will be a presidential decision."
Widely viewed as one of the most capable leaders in the Pentagon, Fanning became Air Force undersecretary in April 2013. He served several months as acting secretary while the confirmation of now-Secretary Deborah Lee James was stuck in Congress.
Before that, he was deputy undersecretary of the Navy and its deputy chief management officer from 2009-2013.
Fanning has spent the past several months as Carter's right-hand man, helping to organize his boss' transition to the Pentagon's top spot and managing day-to-day activities. It is unclear who would replace Fanning in that role.
In addition to his long resume, Fanning would also mark a milestone as the first openly gay secretary of a military branch.
Fanning has served in his current capacity since April 2013, and is widely regarded as an up and comer in defense circles.
As undersecretary, Fanning primarily oversees the service's budget and takes the point position onmatters of space operations, policy and acquisition issues.
Before joining the Air Force's leadership team, Fanning also served as deputy undersecretary of the Navy and its deputy chief management officer from 2009-2013, where he led the sea service's business transformation and governance processes.
Fanning "has had a terrific tenure in the Air Force," said Rebecca Grant, a former Air Force official and president of IRIS Research. "He's really been able to operate across the full range, including being involved in the difficult budget meetings in the Pentagon" over the past several years, she added.
Grant also noted that the Air Force is facing some weighty issues, such as the long-range bomber program, finding ways to pay for the expensive fleet of F-35s that will soon be making their way down assembly lines and into the operational Air Force, and finding ways to increase — or at least maintain — the current operational posture of its fleet of ISR and strike drones.
The chief of staff commonly assists the secretary with policy deliberations and coordinating interagency matters, among other tasks.

Featured Posts

Trump Administration Rolled Backwards The Clock for LGBT and People Living with HIV

                                   By  Sean Cahill HIV Plus Magazine   Last weekend marked the two-year anniv...