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US Senate unanimously confirms first openly gay judge to a federal appeals court

US Senate unanimously confirms first openly gay judge to a federal appeals court

Todd Hughes made history today (24 September) as the first openly gay man to be confirmed to a federal appeals court.

The US Senate unanimously confirmed Hughes by a vote of 98-0.

Hughes will not likely be drawn into any controversial social issues since US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, on which he will serve, mainly deals with issues of intellectual property.

For the past six years, Hughes has been a deputy director in the civil division of the US Justice Department.

Presidential counsel Kathryn Ruemmler said in a statement after the vote: ‘Like all of the (President Barack Obama’s) judicial nominees, Hughes has the intellect, experience, integrity and temperament to be a successful judge. He is also gay.’

Ruemmler added: ‘Many of the president’s circuit judges have broken new diversity barriers – including three Hispanic, two Asian-American, and one African-American – who are "firsts" in their respective courts. … The judiciary will better reflect the nation it serves, instilling even greater public confidence in our justice system.’

The US courts of appeal are divided up geographically across the country. Only the US Supreme Court ranks higher.