Mike Huckabee said Saturday that President Barack Obama’s decision to nominate a gay man to lead the Army was made so he could appease “America’s homosexuals.”
“It’s clear President Obama is more interested in appeasing America’s homosexuals than honoring America’s heroes,” the former Arkansas governor said in a statement released by his campaign. “Veterans suicide is out-of-control and military readiness is dangerously low, yet Obama is so obsessed with pandering to liberal interest groups he’s nominated an openly gay civilian to run the Army. Homosexuality is not a job qualification. The U.S. military is designed to keep Americans safe and complete combat missions, not conduct social experiments.”
Obama announced on Friday he was nominating Eric K. Fanning to lead the Army. If confirmed by the Senate, he would be the first openly gay secretary of a U.S. military branch.
Fanning has served as acting under secretary of the Army since June, and before that, served as chief of staff to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. Fanning also served as under secretary of the Air Force and deputy undersecretary of the Navy.
An inquiry from CNN asking the Huckabee campaign to comment on Fanning’s qualifications was not immediately returned. A request for comment from the White House also was not immediately returned.
Sen. Ted Cruz also weighed in on Fanning’s nomination Saturday at the Faith and Freedom presidential forum in Iowa, where he said he hoped Obama isn’t looking to “make a political statement” in picking his new Army chief.
“I certainly hope that the secretary of the Army is being nominated because the President wants the right person to defend our nation and not because he is looking to make a political statement on issues of sexual orientation unrelated to defending this nation and keeping us safe,” Cruz said. “But as I said, I will wait until his confirmation hearing to assess his record on the merits.”
Fanning’s nomination is one of many steps the Obama administration has taken to advance the rights of the LGBT community in the armed forces. In 2010, the President signed a law ending the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that prohibited gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, and earlier this year, the President moved to allow those who identify as transgender to openly serve as well.
“Eric brings many years of proven experience and exceptional leadership to this new role,” the President said in a statement Friday. “I am grateful for his commitment to our men and women in uniform, and I am confident he will help lead America’s Soldiers with distinction.”