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Senate confirms nation's first openly gay federal appellate judge

The Baltimore Sun

The Senate confirmed Todd Hughes' nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in a 98-0 vote Tuesday, making Hughes the first openly gay federal appeals court judge in U.S. history.

Hughes, who has been a deputy director in the Justice Department's civil division since 2007, was President Barack Obama's second out gay nominee to the Federal Circuit. In 2010, Obama nominated Edward DuMont, whose nomination was held up in the Senate for more than a year and a half before eventually being withdrawn.

The White House, for its part, seems aware its made history, with a blog post Tuesday featuring the phrase "He is also gay."

"Judge Hughes is a remarkably qualified jurist who has served his country tirelessly, and today that commitment to service made history," said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin in a statement. "As an openly gay man takes to the federal appellate court bench for the very first time, barriers to achievement for the next generation of LGBT young people are crumbling every day."

The courts of appeals, for those who aren't familiar, sit one level below the Supreme Court. As one of 12 Federal Circuit judges, Hughes will deal with appeals of cases involving specialized issues like patent and trademark law, veterans' benefits, international trade and government contracts.

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