First Openly Gay Man Quietly Confirmed as US Judge

J. Paul Oetken makes history, with little fanfare
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2011 7:08 AM CDT
J. Paul Oetken is the first openly gay man to be confirmed as a US federal judge.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – The US got its first openly gay male federal judge last night. J. Paul Oetken, a former lawyer for the Clinton administration, was confirmed by the Senate on an 80-13 vote and could take his Manhattan seat this week, the New York Times reports. "The old barriers that existed in society are crumbling. That’s what this will say," declares Sen. Charles Schumer, who recommended Oetken's appointment to President Obama last year.

Dana Milbank agrees: "The remarkable thing about what happened on the Senate floor Monday night was that it was utterly unremarkable," he writes in the Washington Post, noting that Oetken's confirmation included not a single word of objection, even from "ardent social conservatives"—nor any reaction when the "lopsided vote tally" was read. "It would be premature to believe that Oetken’s easy confirmation heralds some new post-sexual era in American politics," he continues. "But it was a signal moment nonetheless."

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