The president appointed a new secretary of the Army and suddenly everyone's talking about it. Most secretaries come and go, seldom noticed by the general public; but not Fanning, as he's got something special about him — the new US Army secretary is openly gay.
The appointment must still be approved by the US Senate though, but with Obama appointing him personally, Fanning's candidacy looks solid.
"Eric brings many years of proven experience and exceptional leadership to this new role," Obama said in a statement, as cited by the Washington Post.
Gay rights groups hailed Obama's decision.
The appointment shows President Obama's commitment to bring diversity to the highest levels of the US administration. Obama introduced policies to provide benefits to same-sex partners, nominated gays and lesbians to leading executive roles, and ended the 18-year ban on gay men serving in the US military, allowing gays to openly serve in the army.
Some soldiers also supported the appointment, saying the Army needs a good leader who can make tough decisions and if Fanning is that type of person, he's welcome.
"The Army cares whether you can shoot straight, not whether you're straight," said Phil Carter, a veteran of the war in Iraq and senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.
Fanning is known for his sense of humor. He was quoted as saying he won't be painting US military planes pink after becoming the Air Force secretary.