WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, the U.S. Senate voted 80-13 to confirm into office the first openly gay federal judge.
Attorney J. Paul Oetken, who has worked as associate counsel to President Bill Clinton and with Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union, was nominated in January by President Barack Obama to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
No Democratic senator voted against Oetken’s confirmation, though North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan (D) wasn’t present. In a statement provided to qnotes, spokesperson Sadie Weiner said Hagan’s flight from Charlotte had been delayed after attending a camp on Monday for high school-aged women interested pursuing technology studies and careers.
“When the Senate is not conducting business in Washington, Senator Hagan is almost always in North Carolina spending time with her constituents,” Weiner said.
Hagan also released a brief statement acknowledging the historic confirmation.
“I applaud the overwhelming bipartisan support for the nomination of Paul Oetken to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. A great day for the LGBT community and the nation,” Hagan said.
Six other senators, all Republicans, also missed the vote.
Other openly gay judicial nominees are being considered, including out lesbian Alison Nathan and openly gay Edward DuMont. Nathan’s nomination was approved last week by the Senate Judiciary Committee. DuMont’s nomination hasn’t yet been acted upon.