In his first public statement since being nominated by President Trump as army secretary, an anti-gay Republican lawmaker has said his attacks on the LGBT community are just “politics”.
Eric Fanning made history when Barack Obama nominated him as the United States Secretary of the Army in May last year, making history as the first out man to head a military branch.
However, Mr Fanning was turfed out of his job when Donald Trump took office, with billionaire hockey club owner Vincent Viola serving in the interim role.
Tennessee state senator Mark Green was nominated for the role by Trump, a strongly anti-LGBT Republican lawmaker, to fill the role full-time.
In his first public statement since being nominated, and facing huge pushback for his anti-LGBT rhetoric, Green has dismissed bills he put forward attacking LGBT people as “politics”.
Green is the author of Tennessee bill SB 127, which would grant businesses unlimited rights to discriminate without any action from state agencies, invalidating any non-discrimination protections.
The broadly worded states: “A government entity shall not take discriminatory action against a business entity on the basis of the internal policies of the business entity, including, but not limited to, personnel and employee benefit policies that are in compliance with state law.”
The bill was attacked by the Human Rights Campaign as a “thinly veiled legislative assault on LGBTQ Tennesseans and their families”.
HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said at the time: “This proposal would forbid crucially important LGBTQ non-discrimination protections from being implemented by state and local government agencies.
“The Tennessee Senate should reject this shameful, discriminatory overreach of power.”
Mr Fanning previously spoke movingly about a significance of being an openly gay men in the role.
Addressing a Pride event, he said: “For many in our military, Pride in San Diego has special meaning… With their actions, they sent a clear message to our country: that it’s possible to take deep pride in being part of two great families, the U.S. military and the LGBT community.
“I thought about my own experience when I first went to the Pentagon. I didn’t see anyone else like me in that large building.
“Each time I advance in [my] career, I get more attention and more people write to me, and I realise how many other people now see something they didn’t see before.”