On Thursday, The White House announced that President Obama has nominated Pamela Ki Mai Chen, an out lesbian, to serve on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn. Chen is the first LGBT Asian-American to be nominated for a federal judgeship.
In a statement, Obama said, “I am proud to nominate this outstanding candidate to serve on the United States District Court bench. Pamela Chen has a long and distinguished record of service, and I am confident she will serve on the federal bench with distinction.”
The Washington Blade reported that Chen’s nomination makes her the fifth openly LGBT person that the Obama administration has nominated to the federal bench. Alison Nathan, another lesbian, was confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, as were two gay men: J. Paul Oetken, who was confirmed to the same court, and Michael Fitzgerald, who was confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Edmund Dumont, was nominated to serve on the U S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, but his nomination was withdrawn after the Senate took action on his nomination over the course of 18 months.
Deborah Batts, a lesbian, was appointed to the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York during the Clinton administration. Retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, who ruled in 2010 that California’s Proposition 8 was unconstitutional, is gay, but didn’t come out publicly until after he retired.