WASHINGTON ― Tennessee state Sen. Mark Green (R) withdrew his name from consideration to become the next Army secretary Friday, making him the second person to back out from the nomination.
“I am honored that President [Donald] Trump nominated me for this position,” Green said in a statement. “I appreciate his support and confidence in me, as well as that of Secretary Mattis and many others, and their desire to Make America Great Again by preparing our military to face the many challenges in the world for the safety and security of our nation.”
Green engendered significant opposition to his nomination after HuffPost first reported on comments he had made about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.
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 part of the reason he opposes allowing transgender people to use the restroom corresponding to their gender identity is because he has a mission to “crush evil.”
“Discrimination and anti-LGBTQ beliefs have no place in our military. GLAAD’s leaked audio and the outrage from our supporters helped sink Mark Green’s nomination.GLAAD President Sara Kate Ellis
In his Friday statement, Green said that his nomination has become a “distraction” and blamed people for perpetrating “misleading attacks” on him.
“Tragically, my life of public service and my Christian beliefs have been mischaracterized and attacked by a few on the other side of the aisle for political gain,” he added. “While these false attacks have no bearing on the needs of the Army or my qualifications to serve, I believe it is critical to give the President the ability to move forward with his vision to restore our military to its rightful place in the world.”
If confirmed, however, Green would have overseen a force that’s been fully integrated since June 2016, when the Pentagon ended its ban on transgender people serving openly. He would have stood in significant contrast to the previous Army secretary, Eric Fanning, who was the first openly gay person to serve in the position.
“Discrimination and anti-LGBTQ beliefs have no place in our military. GLAAD’s leaked audio and the outrage from our supporters helped sink Mark Green’s nomination, but we now need to continue to hold the Trump Administration accountable by fighting back on every attempt to erase the LGBTQ community from this nation,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of the LGBTQ equality group GLAAD.
Green had also made Islamophobic remarks, saying he does not believe schools should teach students about the Muslim faith.
In recent days, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Iraq War veteran Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Senate Armed Services Committee member Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), along with a number of House Democrats, all came out against Green’s nomination.
Comments from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who chairs the committee Green would have needed to clear, also made it seem like the state senator’s nomination could be in trouble.
“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 is the second Army secretary nominee to withdraw. Previously, Vincent Viola ― a billionaire who made his money on Wall Street ― backed out because he said it would be too difficult to disentangle himself from his business dealings.