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Openly gay man appointed as Chief of Staff for the Secretary of Defense

WASHINGTON DC -- Eric Fanning, who is openly gay, has been appointed the Chief of Staff for the Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter.

In June 2013, Fanning was named Acting Air Force Secretary. At the time he became the highest ranking LGBT person in the Defense Department.

Fanning had been confirmed as the Air Force Undersecretary in April 2013. Prior to his Air Force post, Fanning was Deputy Undersecretary of the Navy and deputy director of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, according to the Air Force Times.

Also, Fanning served on the board of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund from 2004 to 2007.

The American Military Partner Association (AMPA), which advocates for LGBT military families, hailed the appointment.

"We are thrilled to see Fanning's appointment because of his experience first and foremost," AMPA president Ashley Broadway-Mack said. "Knowing that he's an openly gay man in such an important role is a milestone and a sign of how far we've come, especially when only a few years ago LGB service members could not serve openly."

AMPA is committed to addressing the unique challenges that remain for LGBT military families within the Department of Defense. Among these challenges include a need for non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation, and an end to the ban on service by transgender people - who are still prohibited from serving openly and honestly due to outdated regulations. An estimated 15,500 transgender service members currently serve in silence.