Metro Weekly

Trump names billionaire NHL owner as Secretary of the Army

Vincent Viola will replace Eric Fanning, the first openly gay man to serve as head of a major military branch

Vincent Viola - Photo: Florida Panthers, via
Vincent Viola – Photo: Florida Panthers, via

Trump Cabinet, Cabinet-Level Nominee and Adviser Threat Gauge

Name: Vincent Viola

Position: Secretary of the Army

LGBT record: No known record on LGBT issues.

Threat Level: 🔥 — Sparks and small flames

President-elect Donald Trump has named Vincent Viola, a billionaire philanthropist and owner of the Florida Panthers hockey team, as his nominee to be the next Secretary of the Army, reports the Military Times.

Viola, a former Airborne Ranger, Army reservist, and West Point graduate, will take over the reins of the Army from Eric Fanning, who was officially confirmed as the first openly gay Secretary of the Army — or for that matter, of any military branch — earlier this year.

“Whether it is his distinguished military service or highly impressive track record in the world of business, Vinnie has proved throughout his life that he knows how to be a leader and deliver major results in the face of any challenge,” Trump said in a statement praising Viola. Trump praised Viola’s story, as the son of Italian immigrants, as “living proof of the American dream.”

Viola also previously served as Chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange and helped found the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.

Viola has no known record on LGBT issues, making him a veritable blank slate. But some of Trump’s other appointees, including retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as national security adviser and retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, as Secretary of Defense, are known to have opposed the current policy allowing LGBT service members to serve openly. It is not yet known whether that opposition will result in any major policy change, or what role Viola might play if any such reversal were attempted.

However, Fanning recently told attendees of the Victory Institute’s recent International LGBT Leaders Conference that he did not believe the Trump administration was focused on trying to stop LGBT military members from serving openly. Rather he said, the transition team has been more concerned with “the size and shape of the military,” and “budgetary political issues outside the Pentagon” than on reversing pro-LGBT policies adopted during the Obama administration.

Leave a Comment:

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!