Gay nominee Michael Fitzgerald has been confirmed as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in a Senate vote of 91-6.
The vote follows months of obstruction of 17 judicial nominees by Senate Republicans.
The Washington Blade reports:
The Senate Judiciary Committee reported out his nomination in November unanimously by voice vote to the Senate floor, but his confirmation has been held up along with other nominees.
Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who recommended the Fitzgerald nomination, spoke highly of him on the Senate floor prior to the vote as she chided Republicans for holding up his confirmation. “He is an historic choice, and a vote of Mr. Fitzgerald’s nomination is long overdue, because he was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously 133 days ago, on Nov. 3, 2011,” Boxer said. “It really shouldn’t take this long to confirm such a highly-qualified nominee like Mr. Fitzgerald, especially because this seat has been designated a judicial emergency.”
Fitzgerald's confirmation will make him the first out LGBT Article III judge serving outside of New York City. Article III judges -- referencing the judicial powers detailed in the Constitution -- are nominated by the president, given consent by the Senate to serve and have lifetime tenure.
The vote, which began a little after 2:24 p.m. today, came after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday, March 12, announced that he would be forcing debate and votes on 17 of Obama's judicial nominees if no deal was reached. On Wednesday, March 14, an agreement was reached between the parties' leaders to have the Senate vote in the coming weeks on 14 of President Obama's judicial nominees -- including Fitzgerald.
Senators voting "no" were Blunt, DeMint, Inhofe, Lee, Paul and Vitter.
“Congratulations to Judge Fitzgerald, whose broad legal experience makes him an excellent choice for the federal bench. He joins a still very small but growing group of openly LGBT federal judges, and we commend the Obama administration for making sure these esteemed positions are open to all qualified Americans, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The 20 national LGBT organizations that make up the Presidential Appointments Project will continue to advocate for people like Michael, so that our community is represented among public officials throughout the federal government.”