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|U.S. Senate confirms first openly gay federal judge|
|by Ryan Watkins|
|July 22, 2011 00:00|
The United States Senate, for the first time, confirmed an openly gay man to serve as a federal judge. J. Paul Oetken was nominated by President Obama in January and was confirmed by a vote of 80 to 13 on July 18. A simple majority was needed for confirmation.
Oetken will sit on the bench of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who recommended Oetken to President Obama, praised Oetken on the floor of the Senate prior to the confirmation vote.
“Paul is not just an excellent candidate,” Schumer said. “As the first openly gay man to be confirmed as a federal judge and to serve on the federal bench, he will be a symbol of how much we have achieved as a country in just the last few decades.”
Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, called the vote historic.
“Paul Oetken serves as a role model for all LGBT people interested in serving on the judiciary and his confirmation shows LGBT youth that hard work pays off,” said Solmonese.
Oetken joins Judge Deborah Batts, a lesbian who also sits on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, as the only other out LGBT person in an Article III federal court.
Batts was appointed to her position during the Clinton administration.
Top photo: J. Paul Oetken (via Facebook)
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