What a difference an election makes: Donald Trump has nominated Tennessee state Senator Mark Green, a legislator with a strong anti-LGBT record, as Army secretary to replace Eric Fanning, the first openly gay person in the position.
Trump’s previous nominee, Florida Panthers owner Vincent Viola, withdrew his name from consideration in February, citing strict Defense Department regulations regarding business conflicts.
Green certainly has the military experience: He was a special operations flight surgeon and participated in the 2003 capture of Saddam Hussein. But he’s also the author of Tennessee bill SB 127, which would allow businesses to ignore local anti-discrimination policies as long as they were in compliance with state law. (Tennessee’s anti-discrimination protections do not include sexual orientation and gender identity.)
HRC describes SB 127 as a “thinly veiled legislative assault on LGBTQ Tennesseans and their families.”
Green has also spearheaded anti-transgender bathroom legislation and supported a bill that would allow educators to opt out of teaching anything not “consistent with their conscience.” He also supported a measure signed into law last year that allows therapists to refuse LGBT patients on religious grounds. (Green authored or supported legislation allowing firearms in public parks, and requiring a 48-hour waiting period on abortions.)
American Military Partner Association, which advocates for the rights of LGBT service members and their families, says it’s “deeply concerned” about Green’s nomination.
“[He] has made a shameful political career out of targeting LGBT people for discrimination,” said AMPA president Ashley Broadway-Mack. “All soldiers and their families, including those who are LGBT, should have confidence that the secretary of the Army has their back and is working for their best interest… Mark Green cannot be trusted to ensure all those who serve have the support they need and deserve.”
With the ban on transgender service members only recently lifted, and still not codified into law, there is understandable concern about their continued ability to serve openly.
In his confirmation hearing, Defense Secretary James Mattis said he wasn’t planning on changing the military’s policy on LGBT troops, at least not right away.
“I never cared much about two consenting adults and who they go to bed with,” Mattis testified. “I believe that right now, the policies that are in effect—unless the service chief brings something to me where there has been a problem that has been proven—then I’m not going in with the idea that I am going to review these and right away, start rolling something back.”
In May 2016, Eric Fanning made history when he was confirmed as Secretary of the Army, the first out person to head a branch of the U.S. military. Fanning previously served as Acting Secretary of the Air Force and deputy chief management officer for the Department of the Navy.