J. Paul Oetken LAW ’91 has become the first openly gay federal judge after the United States Senate confirmed his appointment by an 80-13 vote, The Advocate reported this Monday.
“As the first openly gay man to be confirmed as a federal judge, Paul Oetken is living proof that it really does get better,” said New York Senator Charles E. Schumer in a news release quoted by The Advocate. “His confirmation moves us one step closer toward equality. But long after today, what the history books will remember about Paul are his achievements as a fair and brilliant judge, his unwavering dedication to public service and the Constitution of the United States, and his commitment to the rule of law.”
As the News reported this January, Schumer recommended Oetken to replace Judge Denny Chin on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. At the time, Oetken was senior vice president and associate general counsel at the cable television company Cablevision. He also previously clerked for Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun and served as attorney-advisor in the United States Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel.
Oetken has also been an advocate for LGBT rights, including supporting the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Project and co-authoring an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down the sodomy law in Texas.
On the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Oetken will join judge Deborah Batts — the first openly LGBT person to sit on a federal court, reported The Advocate.