President Obama Nominates African-American Lesbian to Federal Bench

On Thursday, President Obama announced several nominees to federal judge positions, including Staci Michelle Yandle. Yandle, who runs a private practice out of Illinois, would become only the second ever African-American, lesbian federal judge if she is confirmed, and her nomination is an indication of the concerted effort President Obama has made to diversify the American judicial system. Yandle will likely fill the space being vacated in the District Court of the southern district of Illinois by Judge John Phil Gilbert when he takes senior status in mid-March.

YandleHuffPost reports:

“I am pleased to nominate these distinguished individuals to serve on the United States District Court bench," Obama said of Yandle and a handful of other nominees he put forward Thursday. "I am confident they will serve the American people with integrity and a steadfast commitment to justice."

Yandle's nomination puts her on track to become the second openly lesbian African-American federal judge in the country. Judge Deborah Batts, nominated by President Bill Clinton, was sworn in as a federal judge in Manhattan in June 1994. Batts took senior status in April 2012.

Yandle said in a July 2012 interview that the judicial world needs to be more accepting of the LGBT community.

"When I first started practicing, for a while I did not feel comfortable acknowledging my sexual orientation because I didn’t want it to cost me my job," she said. "I wanted to be judged on my merit and my merit alone. Many members of the LGBT community still have that fear. We are a traditional profession that is conservative in many ways."

Congratulations to Yandle on the nomination, and we will cross our fingers for her confirmation!