NASHVILLE — Tennessee state Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, announced Friday he is withdrawing his nomination for Secretary of the Army and lashed out at what he called "false" attacks about his religious beliefs that have become a "distraction."
Green, a physician and former Army flight surgeon, has come under fire for his conservative religious views, including speeches against gay marriage, transgender bathroom rights, evolution and Islam.
"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," Green said in a statement.
Green had been running for the Tennessee GOP's 2018 gubernatorial nomination before President Donald Trump nominated him for the Army secretary post.
"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," Green said in a statement.
He noted he and his wife, Camie, "look forward to finding other opportunities to use our gifts to serve others and help Make America Great Again."
There was no specific comment as to whether he would restart his gubernatorial campaign.
Some criticisms of Green stemmed from videotape of his September 2016 question-and-answer session with Chattanooga Tea Party members.
He was asked how middle-ranking military members felt about the "social revolution imposed on them by this government."
President Barack Obama's Army secretary, Eric Fanning, was the first openly gay military service secretary.
"Remember, the young troops are millennials and they don't really care," Green responded. "'A gay guy wants to fight for the country? Let's let him.'"
But Green went on to say: "If you poll the psychiatrists, they're going to tell you transgender is a disease," and added, "if you really want to bring this back to who's at fault, we've got to look a little inwardly. We've tolerated immorality."
Green added the remedy might be "civil disobedience," suggesting Tennessee's governor defy federal courts over gay marriage and transgender rights.
Contact Andy Sher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-255-0550.
This story was updated May 5 at 11:30 p.m.