Senate Confirms First Openly Gay Federal Judge
By Channing Turner | July 19, 2011 12:53 pm

In a historic first, the Senate by an overwhelming majority Monday confirmed the nation’s  first openly gay federal judge.

J. Paul Oetken, 45, won Senate confirmation by a vote of 80-to-13, and will become a federal judge in Manhattan after President Barack Obama signs his commission.

Democratic Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York recommended Oetken to the White House last year, and applauded his confirmation Monday.

“When there are so many qualified gay and lesbian people and none of them get on the bench, you scratch your head and wonder way,” Schumer told the New York Times. “But the old barriers that existed in society are crumbling. That’s what this will say.”

Oetken received his J.D. from Yale Law School and was a judicial clerk to Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun. After his clerkship, he worked at the Justice Department and served as associate counsel to President Bill Clinton.

Oetken currently works as a senior vice president and associate general counsel at Cablevision.


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