The Senate made history Monday, confirming the first out gay male in history to the federal bench.
With a vote of 80-3, J. Paul Oetken became a federal judge. Oetken was nominated in January by President Obama to sit on the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Oetken is not the first gay person to sit on federal court, however. You might recall that Judge Vaughn Walker, the California judge who ruled against Proposition 8, also recently came out as gay. However, he did not reveal his sexuality prior to reaching the bench. Out lesbian Deborah Batts also sits on federal court, but was appointed rather than confirmed.
Having openly gay people in such positions of respect is vital to the continuing acceptance of the LGBT community nationwide. It allows us to be seen as citizens of the nation, rather than a mysterious subculture that must be separated from the masses.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), praised Oetken on the Senate floor for his exceptional legal work, while mentioning his sexual orientation:
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.
And importantly, he will give hope to many talented young lawyers who, until now, thought their paths might be limited because of their sexual orientation. When Paul becomes Judge Oetken, he will be living proof to all those young lawyers that it really does get better.
A majority vote was needed for confirmation, and there were no votes against Oetken’s confirmation among the Democrats. The Republicans that voted against Oetken’s confirmation were: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Boozman (R-AK), Thad Cochran (R-MI), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Jim DeMint (R-SC), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jerry Moran (R-KY) James Risch (R-ID), Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Roger Wicker (R-MI) .
And as always, there were some random Senators that chose not to vote – for whatever reason: Kay Hagan (D-NC), James Inhofe (R-OK), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rand Paul (R-KY), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Pat Toomey (R-PA) and David Vitter (R-LA).
(via the Blade)
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