Pat Toomey
2 min

Obama nominates out lesbian Latina to federal bench

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI – Following news that an openly gay African-American has been nominated to the federal bench, President Barack Obama has now nominated an out lesbian Latina to serve as a federal judge in Pennsylvania.

The nomination of Nitza Quiñones Alejandro brings the number of openly gay judicial nominees made by Obama to eight, the Washington Blade reports. Obama also named out gay Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge William Thomas to the US District Court for the Southern District Court of Florida Nov 14.

Quiñones Alejandro, a native of Puerto Rico who has served 21 years on the bench, received her law degree from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law in 1975 and graduated with honours in 1972 from the University of Puerto Rico with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, the Blade notes. She is among three nominees announced Nov 27.

Republican Senator Pat Toomey and Democratic Senator Bob Casey issued a joint statement praising Obama's selections.

“In her 21 years on the bench, Nitza Quiñones Alejandro has presided over many cases incorporating different facets of the law,” Toomey says. “In addition to her extensive experience in the courtroom, she has also remained active in her community through her work with schools and mentoring summer law interns.” 

“I’m pleased that the White House has nominated these exceptionally qualified members of the legal community to the bench,” Casey adds. “I was proud to work in a bipartisan fashion with Sen Toomey to nominate these individuals, and I’m hopeful that the Senate will work in a constructive manner to confirm them to the bench in the near future." 

As Quiñones Alejandro's nomination comes with just over a month left in the life of the 112th Congress, it's not likely that the Senate can act on her nomination before it adjourns. Thomas's nomination is unlikely to see Senate action, either, because it was also made so late in the year.

The Blade points out that another gay nominee, Michael McShane, whom Obama named to US District Court for the District of Oregon, was announced in September but has not seen Senate action yet.

Pamela Ki Mai Chen, also named as a federal judge for the Eastern District of New York, is set to have a vote before the Senate judiciary committee Nov 29, the Blade adds. "But per the rules of the committee, Chen’s nomination may be held over for the following executive session if any member of the committee wants more time," the report states.  

Three of the president's openly gay nominees have been confirmed, while one withdrew his nomination "after significant obstructionism in the Senate," the Human Rights Campaign says.

Landing image: The Advocate

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