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Senate unanimousl­y confirms 2 LGBTQ women to top military positions

- By Muri Assuncao

The U.S. Senate has unanimousl­y confirmed two LGBTQ women to top military positions.

“President Biden nominated two historic #LGBTQ+ nominees for key roles” at the Department of Defense,” White House Senior Adviser on LGBTQ+ Engagement Reggie Greer wrote on Twitter.

On Thursday, Gina Ortiz Jones was confirmed to be the next undersecre­tary of the Air Force — the first out lesbian to serve in the position. Her vote came exactly one month after the Senate Armed Services

Committee advanced her nomination.

She follows in the footsteps of Eric Fanning, who became the first out LGBTQ person to serve as undersecre­tary of a military branch when he was confirmed as undersecre­tary of the Air Force in 2013.

Three years later he became the first openly gay leader of any U.S. military, when he was confirmed as Secretary of the Army.

Shawn Skelly, a retired Navy commander, was confirmed as assistant secretary of defense for readiness.

She became the second openly transgende­r person to be confirmed as a federal official — after the groundbrea­king confirmati­on of Dr. Rachel Levine as assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services in March.

The 20-year Navy veteran is a co-founder of Out in National Security, a group of national security profession­als that advocates for LGBTQ national security profession­als with activism and education.

With Thursday’s vote she became the highest-ranking openly trans official at the Department of Defense.

Former mayor of Houston Annise Parker, now the president and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute, celebrated the historic confirmati­ons noting the drastic improvemen­ts in the careers of military leaders in the U.S.

“Gina and Shawn served their country when living openly could result in discharge and a lost career, so their ascension to key leadership positions is a powerful moment for those service members who served or continue to serve in silence,” Parker told The New York Daily News in a statement.

“Their confirmati­on will transform perception­s of LGBTQ people within the ranks of the U.S. military, but also among the leaders of militaries we work with around the world. While they were confirmed because of their unquestion­able qualificat­ions and experience, they symbolize our continued progress and will further disrupt any lingering notion that LGBTQ people are somehow unfit to serve,” she added.

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