He was nominated by Obama back in September, he was made acting Secretary back in November, but only yesterday did the U.S. Senate make "history when it confirmed Eric Fanning to the position of Army secretary." He is "the highest-ranking openly gay official ever at the Pentagon."
The Army secretary "has statutory responsibility for all matters relating to the United States Army: manpower, personnel, reserve affairs, installations, environmental issues, weapons systems and equipment acquisition, communications, and financial management," the Department of Defense says.
NBC puts in the news in the context of "don't ask, don't tell":
Fanning becomes the first openly gay leader of any U.S. military service — a milestone not lost on gay rights groups, coming five years after the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," which had prohibited gay and lesbian service members from being open about their sexuality.
The holdup over his confirmation was actually over something unrelated—one senator's irritation at the Obama administration's stated desire to close Guantanamo. But Republican and Democratic senators were united in their support of Fanning. Even John McCain said in April, after months of delays on Fanning's confirmation, "What we're doing here is we're telling a nominee, who is totally qualified, totally, eminently qualified for the job, that that person cannot fulfill those responsibilities and take on that very important leadership post because of an unrelated issue. That is not the appropriate use of senatorial privilege."
Fanning's confirmation last night was unanimous. And he has long supported transgender people serving in the military.
Congratulations Army Secretary Eric Fanning, the first openly gay leader of a US military service. 5 years & we're already running the place— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) May 18, 2016