Senate Confirms J. Paul Oetken, First Openly Gay Man to Serve on Federal Bench

The Senate voted 80-13 late this afternoon to confirm attorney J. Paul Oetken, a former Clinton administration lawyer recommended to Obama by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), as a U.S. District judge for the Southern District of New York.

Said Schumer on the Senate floor

“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.”

OetkenOetken is the first openly gay man to be confirmed to the federal judiciary.

Oetken, senior vice president and associate general counsel of Cablevision, was also a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun and worked in the Justice Department.

MetroWeekly notes, of the vote: "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), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) were the only no votes."

Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade writes:

Oetken is first openly gay male to be confirmed to the federal bench, but not the first openly LGBT person. U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts, an out lesbian who currently sits on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, is considered the first openly LGBT person to sit on a federal court. She was appointed during the Clinton Administration.