Mark Green withdraws as Army secretary nominee

State Sen. Mark Green addresses the crowd during a rally for President Trump at Municipal Auditorium in Nashville on Wednesday, March 15, 2017.
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Amid mounting opposition over a trail of past statements, Tennessee Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, has withdrawn his name from consideration as President Donald Trump's U.S. Army Secretary's nominee.

It comes amid a flurry of pushback that built over the past month from advocacy organizations, Democrats and even some Republicans about controversial he made in the past concerning gay, lesbian and transgender people, as well as evolution.

Green issued the following statement on Friday:

"It is with deep regret today I am withdrawing my nomination to be the Secretary of the Army," he said. "I am honored that President Trump nominated me for this position. 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.

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"But to meet these challenges, there should be no distractions. And unfortunately due to false and misleading attacks against me, this nomination has become a distraction.

"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. While these 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.

"Camie and I look forward to finding other opportunities to use our gifts to serve others and help Make America Great Again."

Opposition to Green’s nomination accelerated this week, with more and more groups taking issue with his legislative record and controversial comments he has made in the past.

Green, a West Point graduate and a former Army medic who did three tours of duty overseas, was under fire for, among other things, sponsoring legislation that would allow mental health practitioners to refuse to treat lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients and his support for a bill that would effectively bar transgender high school and college students from using public restrooms.

His comments at a tea party event in Chattanooga have particularly incensed supporters of LGBT rights.  “If you poll the psychiatrists,” Green said back in September, “they're going to tell you transgender is a disease.”

Those remarks have outraged not only congressional Democrats, but have disturbed some Republicans as well.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who chairs the Senate committee that is responsible for holding Army secretary confirmation hearings, called Green’s comments “very concerning.”

Green, a tea party-aligned senator reelected for a second term in November, earlier this year announced a Republican run for governor of Tennessee, but he halted that bid when Trump nominated him for Army Secretary on April 7.

His move to abandon his nomination could open the door to relaunch a gubernatorial campaign, but Green's next move is unclear.

Green hadn't formally resigned from the state Senate but had stepped back from day-to-day duties.