POLITICS
05/02/2017 05:39 pm ET

Trump's Pick For Army Secretary May Be In Trouble

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said many of his comments on Muslims and LGBTQ people are "very concerning."

Tennessee state Sen. Mark Green (R), President Donald Trump’s choice for Army secretary, is increasingly drawing scrutiny, with the Republican head of the Senate Armed Services Committee saying Green’s comments on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people are “very concerning.”

“There’s a lot of controversy concerning his nomination,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told USA Today on Tuesday. “We are getting some questions from both Republicans and Democrats on the Armed Services Committee. I think there are some issues that clearly need to be cleared up.”

Green needs to clear McCain’s committee in order to be confirmed. The White House has not yet formally submitted Green’s nomination to the committee, so there is no date scheduled for his hearings.

McCain said he found a “broad variety” of Green’s comments “very concerning,” including remarks “concerning the Muslim faith, concerning the LGBT community, [and] other issues.”

CNN also reported Tuesday that there is speculation Green may withdraw from consideration as early as this week. A spokesman for Green, however, called the rumor “completely, absolutely untrue.”

As HuffPost first reported, Green has a history of making anti-LGBTQ comments. 

He recently sponsored legislation that would bar local governments from considering companies’ internal policies (such as whether they discriminate based on gender identity or sexual orientation) when doing business or giving out contracts. He has also said he believes being transgender is a disease, and said that part of the reason he opposes allowing trans people to use the restroom corresponding to their gender identity is because he has a mission to “crush evil.” 

Appointing someone with a clear record of homophobia and transphobia... would send the absolute wrong signal about the values for which our military service members are risking their lives. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.)

Green also supported amending the Constitution to define marriage as being between one man and one woman. When the Supreme Court legalized marriage equality nationwide in 2015, Green described the ruling as “Washington’s worsening encroachment on the founding principal of federalism.”

Last year, Green backed legislation that now allows counselors and therapists in Tennessee to reject patients ― including LGBTQ people ― if treating them would violate their religious beliefs.

If confirmed, Green would oversee a force that’s been fully integrated since June, when the Pentagon ended its ban on trans people serving openly. He would stand in significant contrast to the previous Army secretary, Eric Fanning, who was the first openly gay person to serve in the position. 

Green recently broke his silence on some of the criticism he’s faced, accusing the “liberal left” of making him seem like a “hater.” He said he believes “every American has a right to defend their country regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion.”

Green has also made Islamophobic remarks, saying he does not believe schools should teach about the Muslim faith

In addition to Muslim and LGBTQ advocacy organizations, a group of military historians and a former Pentagon official who worked under President Barack Obama also recently came out against the Tennessee lawmaker’s confirmation. A group of House Democrats wrote a letter to Senate Armed Services Committee leaders last week asking them to oppose Green’s confirmation.

And on Monday, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) called on Trump to withdraw Green’s nomination.

“Appointing someone with a clear record of homophobia and transphobia, who has made disgusting statements demeaning toward groups of Americans, would send the absolute wrong signal about the values for which our military service members are risking their lives,” Hoyer said in a statement.

If Green were to withdraw, he’d be the second Trump nominee to do so for the position of Army secretary. Vincent Viola, a billionaire Wall Street trader, dropped his name from consideration in February after concluding it would be too complicated to untangle himself from his business ties. 

McCain’s reluctance to endorse Green’s nomination is a bad sign for his confirmation prospects. Last year, McCain said he believed retired Col. James Hickey ― a senior military adviser for the Senate Armed Services Committee ― would make an outstanding Army secretary. Hickey was reportedly one of the top contenders under consideration.

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