NATIONAL – U.S. Senate made history on June 17th confirming two openly gay judges to be added to the U.S. District Court. This marked the first day two openly gay judicial nominees were confirmed to the federal bench on the same day.
Judge Darrin P. Gayles, confirmed for the Southern District of Florida, is the first in United States history to be an openly gay black male, confirmed as a lifetime-appointed federal judge. Staci Yandle, of the Southern District of Illinois, is the first openly gay black woman to become a lifetime-appointed federal judge.
“This is a groundbreaking victory for our goal of a more inclusive federal bench,” Rea Carey, Executive Director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said. “Not only will Darrin Gayles and Staci Yandle make outstanding federal jurists, Judge Gayles is the first black openly gay nominee to be confirmed, while Judge Yandle is the second black openly lesbian nominee to be confirmed. We commend President Obama and the US Senate for making history together and in turn creating a judiciary that more fairly represents the diversity of our nation.”
Gayles has served both as Assistant District Counsel to the US Immigration and Naturalization Service and Assistant United States Attorney in Florida’s Southern District. He received his J.D. from George Washington University Law School and his B.A. from Howard University.
Yandle is a graduate of the University of Illinois and Vanderbilt Law School. She focuses on representing victims of medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, defective products and civil rights violations. Yandle will become the first black judge to sit on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.
The United States has over 900 federal judges, most of whom are white men. Sharon Lettman-Hicks, the executive director and CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition, said that she is thrilled the Senate has confirmed both Yandle and Gayles to the federal bench.
“NBJC celebrates both confirmations that will inspire so many in the Black and LGBT communities. In addition, we celebrate the vast life experiences that they will take with them to the federal bench as they work to render impartial decisions. It’s a significant sign of progress in our nation when two individuals are judged solely on their merits when being considered for these important lifetime appointments,” Lettman-Hicks said.
Gayles was confirmed by a vote of 98 to 0 and Yandle was confirmed by a vote of 52 to 44.
Also appointed to the federal bench on this landmark day was Judge Salvador Mendoza, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington. He is the first Hispanic judge to serve his court.