Senate Confirms First Openly Gay Federal Judge

On July 18th the U.S. Senate, in a vote of 80-13, confirmed J. Paul Oetken for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Oetken was nominated by President Obama back in January. The Human Rights Campaign’s Joe Solmonese called the vote “historic”.

According to The Washington Blade, no Democrats voted against the confirmation. The Republicans who voted against the confirmation were:

Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Jerry Moran (R-Ky.) James Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) as well as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Senators who didn’t vote on the nomination were Sens. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and David Vitter (R-La.).

Oetken was recommended to President Obama by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

From The Washington Blade:

Oetken has practiced law at Debevoise and Plimpton, and since 2004, served as associate general counsel at Cablevision. From 1999 to 2001, Oetken was associate counsel to President Clinton and specialized in First Amendment issues, presidential appointments, ethics, civil rights, and legal policy.

Additionally, Oetken served in various capacities as an LGBT advocate. The nominee has been involved with Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union. Oetken also co-authored a U.S. Supreme Court friend-of-the-court brief in Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down sodomy laws throughout the country.

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