Change that you can believe. The United States Senate made judicial history today by confirming Darrin P. Gayles to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida and Staci Michelle Yandle to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. This marks the first time "the Senate has confirmed two openly gay judges on the same day," reports the White House.
Both of the judges are also Black. Judge Gayles becomes the first openly Black openly gay man to serve on the federal judiciary.
Judge Yandle was confirmed by a party-line 52-44 vote. She was nominated in January and becomes the first Black judge "ever on that court and the first openly gay judge in the 7th Circuit, which covers Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin," noted Politico.
Judge Yandle has served as a solo practitioner focusing on civil litigation in southern Illinois since 2007, according to a biography provided by the White House. The judge follows the path of the distinguished Judge Deborah Batts, the groundbreaking Black lesbian jurist whom President Bill Clinton nominated to the Southern District of New York in 1994. Batts became the first ever openly LGBT federal judge.
Judge Gayles was confirmed unanimously by a 98-0 vote. "From 2004 to 2011, he served as a County Judge in Miami-Dade County," according to his bio. "Since 2011, he has served as a Circuit Court Judge."
National Black Justice Coalition CEO Sharon Lettman-Hicks applauded the historic confirmations."I am thrilled that the Senate has confirmed Attorney Yandle and Judge Gayles to the federal bench. NBJC celebrates both confirmations that will inspire so many in the Black and LGBT communities," said Lettman-Hicks. "In addition, we celebrate the vast life experiences that they will take with them to the federal bench as they work to render impartial decisions. It's a significant sign of progress in our nation when two individuals are judged solely on their merits when being considered for these important lifetime appointments."
This is not the first time that Obama has nominated a Black openly gay man to the federal judiciary. In November 2012, Obama nominated William Thomas to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio initially recommended Thomas but later stalled the nomination. Thomas' nomination was not resubmitted this year.
Obama has nominated more Black, Latino and LGBT judges than any previous president, according to the White House. History was made when the Senate confirmed U. S. District Court Judge Pamela Chen to become the first openly gay, Asian-American judge on the federal bench in 2013. Chen serves on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Obama also nominated U. S. District Court Judge Nitza I. Quiñones Alejandro as the first out Latina on the federal bench in 2012. Quiñones was confirmed to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in 2013.
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INFOGRAPHIC: Obama Administration's Judicial Nominees