5:51pm

Tue July 19, 2011
The Two-Way

Senate Confirms First Openly Gay Man As Federal Federal Judge

Dana Milbank of The Washington Post described what happened last night at the United Sates Senate as remarkable for being "utterly unremarkable."

In a bi-partisan vote of 80-13, the Senate confirmed the appointment of Clinton administration lawyer J. Paul Oetken to the federal bench. With the confirmation, Oetken became the first openly gay man to become a federal judge, something that Millbank writes, "would at one time have been a flashpoint in the culture wars. But Paul Oetken was confirmed without a word of objection on the Senate floor and with hardly a mention in the commentariat."

The New York Times reports that Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), who recommended the appointment to President Obama, did take a moment to mark the milestone.

"As the first openly gay man to be confirmed as a federal judge, he will be a symbol of how much we have achieved as a country in just the last few decades," Schumer said. "When there are so many qualified gay and lesbian people and none of them get on the bench, you scratch your head and wonder why. But the old barriers that existed in society are crumbling. That's what this will say."

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