U.S. Senate Confirms First Openly Gay Federal Judge
“As the first openly gay man to be confirmed as a federal judge,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) Said, “he is a symbol of how much we have achieved as a country in just the last few decades. And importantly, he will give hope to many talented young lawyers who until now thought their paths might be limited because of their sexual orientation. Paul Oetken is living proof to all those young lawyers that it really does get better” (in reference to the “It Gets Better” campaign). Paul Oetken is the first openly gay man to go through an Article III confirmation process in this country, which makes this moment historic.
Just before the vote ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley (Iowa), gave a brief speech in support of Oetkin, mentioning the nominee’s Iowa roots but nothing about his homosexuality. He recited Oetkin’s credentials, including his Yale Law degree and Supreme Court clerkship. “I support this nomination and congratulate him on his professional accomplishments,” Grassley said. To his credit, that is all Grassley thought relevant.
Many closeted gay men have served as judges since the beginning of the Republic. And a lesbian, Deborah Batts, has been a federal judge since 1994. But when Batts went before the Judiciary Committee, her homosexuality was left unmentioned in the confirmation hearings.
Oetkin, by contrast, downplayed nothing about his sexual orientation: his work with Lambda Legal and the ACLU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project, or his co-authorship of a Supreme Court amicus brief opposing an anti-gay law. At his confirmation hearing, he introduced Grassley to his partner, Makky Pratayot (shown at right in photo above). They live together in Manhattan.
Role models of greatness.
Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.