Republican Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee slammed President Barack Obama’s decision to nominate an out gay man to lead the Army, claiming the President is “more interested in appeasing America’s homosexuals than honoring America’s heroes,” reports CNN.
“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,” the former Arkansas governor said in a statement released Saturday by his campaign. “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’s nominee, announced Friday, is Eric Fanning , who has been a specialist on defense and national security issues for more than 25 years in Congress and the Pentagon. As secretary, he would head the Army in partnership with Gen. Mark Milley, named the branch’s top general last month.
Despite Fanning’s qualifications, Huckabee felt the need to highlight his sexuality as an area of concern, and that course of attack has advocates leaping to Fanning's defense.
"It is disgraceful and hypocritical of Mr. Huckabee to engage in this behavior when just a few weeks ago he was rallying for Kim Davis on his perception of the reverse," said Matt Thorn, Interim Executive Director of OutServe-SLDN, in an email to The Advocate. His statement read, in part:
"It is unbecoming of a presidential candidate to attack someone on a personal basis like this. I do agree with Mr. Huckabee that sexual orientation isn’t a job qualification and Eric is not being nominated because he is gay, he is being nominated for his extensive 25+ year career within the Department of Defense and the knowledge that he possess about military policy.
"Eric’s sexual orientation has absolutely no foundation in his ability to do this job.
"If Mr. Huckabee cares so deeply about the issues that he claims then he would applaud Eric’s appointment and his history of serving the United States armed services in each of his positions and not tear him down because he doesn’t agree with his sexual orientation.
"OutServe-SLDN asks that all candidates running for the office of President of the United States denounce this vicious and unjust attack.
"Finally, I ask that Mr. Huckabee apologize to Mr. Fanning and stop using the LGBT community for his 30 second campaign sound bites. In the race to the bottom, that is the Republican primary, this is a new and disgusting low. It doesn’t make Mr. Huckabee presidential, it makes him desperate.”
The Human Rights Campaign also reacted to Huckabee’s statement with one of its own, claiming the former Arkansas governor’s homophobia is a clear indicator he is “unfit to be commander in chief.”
“Mike Huckabee is so blinded by his own bigotry that he would oppose someone with two decades of national security experience just because of his sexual orientation,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs, in a statement.
“Mike Huckabee’s naked prejudice and willingness to smear an experienced public servant shows he is unfit to be commander in chief. Other candidates should make immediately clear they won’t tolerate Huckabee’s bigotry and that they will make these decisions based on Eric Fanning’s experience and on the merits.”
Fanning now awaits confirmation by the Senate. If confirmed he would become the first openly gay civilian secretary of any branch of the military on more than an interim basis.