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First Out Lesbian Latina Confirmed to Federal Judgeship

By Trudy Ring

The U.S. Senate today confirmed Nitza Quiñones Alejandro to a federal judgeship, making her the first openly gay Latina to hold such a post.

She was confirmed by voice vote to a spot on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, along with fellow nominee Jeffrey Schmehl, the Washington Blade reports. She has served on the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas since 1991.

“A Puerto Rico native, Quiñones breaks a glass ceiling as the first openly LGBT Hispanic to serve on the federal bench,” the Blade reports. “Additionally, she’s the seventh openly LGBT person ever to receive confirmation as a federal judge.”

President Obama first nominated Quiñones to the federal judgeship in November and renominated her in January. At this afternoon’s White House LGBT Pride Month Reception, he congratulated her, “even though she couldn’t be here today, because she’s getting ready to finally take her seat on the bench and get to work,” he said.

Human Rights Campaign spokesman Michael Cole-Schwartz commented favorably on Quiñones’s confirmation, telling the Blade, “We are very pleased to see yet another highly qualified, openly LGBT nominee confirmed to the federal bench — particularly a woman of color who helps reflect the diversity of the American people in the judiciary.”

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