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 NHL.com

Vincent Viola – Photo: Florida Panthers, via NHL.com

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.

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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