Alliance for Justice Hails Senate Vote Approving J. Paul Oetken as First Openly Gay Man to Be Confirmed for Federal Judgeship
Press ContactKevin Fry email@example.com
Washington, D.C., July 18, 2011—Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron issued the following statement in the wake of the vote by the United States Senate to confirm J. Paul Oetken as judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York:
Today marked an historic moment for the federal judiciary as, for the first time, an openly gay man was confirmed as a federal district court judge. The nomination and confirmation of J. Paul Oetken removes one of the final barriers to full and active participation of LGBT individuals in public life. Although gay men and lesbians have long served as judges, the barrier of silence and secrecy has now fallen, and highly qualified LGBT candidates for federal judgeships need no longer fear the nomination process or hide the truth of their lives.
President Obama is to be commended for continuing his effort to ensure that all Americans, without exception, have an opportunity to serve their nation from the federal bench. The President has, by far, the strongest record on diversity in his judicial nominations of any president in history, and his selection of Judge Oetken continues that trend.
Although today’s confirmation was groundbreaking, another kind of history continues to be made, however, as the judicial confirmation process has once again ground to a virtual halt in the Senate. Paul Oetken is the only lifetime judicial nominee to be confirmed during the past four weeks, leaving 21 of his colleagues languishing in an increasingly dysfunctional Senate and awaiting their final vote. Although we are overjoyed that the Southern District of New York has a brilliant new judge, the rest of America’s courts deserve the same.
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Alliance for Justice is a national association of more than 100 organizations, representing a broad array of groups committed to progressive values and the creation of an equitable, just, and free society. AFJ works to ensure that the federal judiciary advances core constitutional values, preserves human rights and unfettered access to the courts, and adheres to the even-handed administration of justice for all Americans. It is the leading expert on the legal framework for nonprofit advocacy efforts, providing definitive information, resources, and technical assistance that encourages organizations and their funding partners to fully exercise their right to be active participants in the democratic process. AFJ is based in Washington, D.C. Additional information can be found at www.afj.org.