Paul Oetken, First Openly Gay Judge, Confirmed to Federal Bench

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James Paul Oetken was confirmed to the United States District Court yesterday for the Southern District of New York. He was the first ever openly gay man ever appointed to the federal bench.

Given the division between Democrats and Republicans on gay rights and on President Obama's judicial nominees, Oetken was confirmed with a shocking 80 votes in the United States Senate, with every Democrat and a majority of Republicans voting for him.

Oetken, currently a Vice President of Cablevision, and his partner Makky Pratayot live in Manhattan.

There are, of course, an unknown quantity of gay federal judges who are not open. Vaughn Walker, the U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of California who presided over the Proposition 8 case last year, did not come out until after he retired.

Also, Judge Deborah Batts, an open lesbian also on the federal bench of the Southern District of New York, has been serving since 1994.

sthrasher@villagevoice.com | @steven_thrasher

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