Obama nominee would be first openly gay black male on federal bench
February 5th, 2014
01:28 PM ET
6 months ago

Obama nominee would be first openly gay black male on federal bench

Washington (CNN) - The slate of judicial nominees that President Barack Obama announced Wednesday includes a judge who, if confirmed, would become the first openly gay male African-American on the federal bench.

Darrin Gayles, a state circuit court judge in Florida, was one of four nominees announced Wednesday for two different U.S. District Courts in Florida. A fifth nominee – Cheryl Ann Krause – was tapped to serve on a Philadelphia-based U.S. Court of Appeals.

Gayles is nominated to serve in the Miami-based Southern District – the same federal bench where Obama first nominated William Thomas in November 2012, before eventually pulling the nomination last month. Thomas is also an openly gay African-American.

Thomas’ confirmation was blocked by Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who originally signed a letter supporting the judge. In a statement, Rubio’s office said the senator questioned Thomas’ “judicial temperament” and other concerns.

Under arcane rules, a senator can unilaterally block the Senate from considering a nominee from his home state by refusing to return a so-called blue slip. There was no indication Rubio would oppose these latest choices.

The group of nominees Wednesday, which also includes two woman and one Hispanic judge, comes after outcry from civil rights leaders and African-American members of Congress who claim Obama’s record of nominees doesn’t reflect the diversity of their home regions.

In December, three African-American members of Congress claimed they were deliberately kept out of the process for filling vacancies on two Atlanta-based federal courts.

"Justice can't be found in secret deals that shut the people out. Mr. President, the lives of the people of this state are hanging in the balance," said U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat. "We believe it is not too late to turn this train around."

The White House pushed back strongly against the complaints, noting that nearly 20 percent of the judges Obama has named are African American.

Obama has also named two women to the Supreme Court, including the first Latina jurist, Sonia Sotomayor.

On Wednesday the White House published a new website that displays graphically the diversity of Obama’s judicial nominees, proclaiming “This is the first time our judicial pool has been this diverse.”

“The men and women the President has nominated to enforce our laws and deliver justice represent his unprecedented commitment expanding the diversity of our nation's highest courts. That's a big deal,” the site reads.

Both Republicans and Democrats increasingly see the federal courts as a political battleground. And nationwide, open seats have gone unfilled for years due to partisan warfare and political gridlock.

CNN’s Bill Mears contributed to this report.


Filed under: Congress • Obama administration • President Obama • White House
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. smith

    Racism and bigotry is alive and well in both parties. Every race has it`s share of bigots and racist people.

    February 5, 2014 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  2. ThinkAgain

    I really couldn't care less, as long as he is qualified.

    February 5, 2014 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  3. ThinkAgain

    @bill: "bill
    Obama would not his son to play football-dolls??? general gates "obama only showed passion about the military when he was talking about gays". is anyone getting the picture???? lies and......................"

    Gates also praised President Obama as a rigorous thinker who frequently made decisions “opposed by his political advisers or that would be unpopular with his fellow Democrats.” And Gates also holds GW and his administration responsible for misguided policy that squandered the early victories in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    And regarding President Obama's decision to send in the SEAL team that took out bin Laden? Gates writes that the President's approval of the mission – despite strong doubts that Bin Laden was even there – was “one of the most courageous decisions I had ever witnessed in the White House.”

    Gates also is very clean about his opinion on President Obama's overall Afghan strategy: “I believe Obama was right in each of these decisions.”

    See what you learn when you turn off Fox?

    February 5, 2014 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  4. GOP = Greed Over People

    "The Dems continue to stack the deck, against the people of America, in their effort to take total control of America...........and transform the country into a socialist dictatorship."

    No worries, that fear you are experiencing is not new, the Indians first experienced it when we white, Eastern Europeans first "took control of America".

    That loathing you anticipate from others, that are not of our white Eastern European ancestry, is called "payback" and we Southerners are due a double dose!

    Hopefully, they will be more compassionate, noble and understanding than we white, Eastern Europeans that feel the need to subjugate others to our will.

    February 5, 2014 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  5. Silence DoGood

    @ThinkAgain
    @bill: "bill
    Obama would not his son to play football-dolls??? general gates "obama only showed passion about the military when he was talking about gays". is anyone getting the picture???? lies and......................"

    Gates also praised President Obama as a rigorous thinker who frequently made decisions “opposed by his political advisers or that would be unpopular with his fellow Democrats.” And Gates also holds GW and his administration responsible for misguided policy that squandered the early victories in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    And regarding President Obama's decision to send in the SEAL team that took out bin Laden? Gates writes that the President's approval of the mission – despite strong doubts that Bin Laden was even there – was “one of the most courageous decisions I had ever witnessed in the White House.”

    Gates also is very clean about his opinion on President Obama's overall Afghan strategy: “I believe Obama was right in each of these decisions.”

    See what you learn when you turn off Fox?
    -------------–
    No, our buddy bill here is going for the Obama-might-be-gay-so-tea-party-folks-can-snicker approach. Like Beavis and Butthead "uh huh, uh huh, you said 'gay' uh huh". Can you imagine this country if these racist, homophobic, religious zealots established their New Order Theocracy? God help us.

    February 5, 2014 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  6. yolanda

    Well, I'm going yo be very disappointed if he's not left handed. There simply aren't enough left handed judges, and everyone knows that left handed people must be identified as left handed on order for them to be fairly represented......

    February 5, 2014 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
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