President Obama has nominated Judge Nitza I Quinones to the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennyslvania. Judge Quinones will be the first open lesbian Hispanic woman to serve on the Federal Bench. This is the President's eight appointment of an openly LGBT American to the Federal Bench. Quinones is of Puerto Rican descent.
Quiñones previously worked as a staff attorney for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs from 1979 to 1991, and she served as an attorney advisor for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from 1977 to 1979, according to a biography provided by the White House. She began her legal career as a staff attorney for Community Legal Services, Inc. in Philadelphia from 1975 to 1977. Quiñones received her law degree from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law in 1975 and her bachelor’s in business administration from the University of Puerto Rico in 1972.
If confirmed by the Senate, Judge Quiñones would become the first out gay Hispanic woman to serve on the federal bench, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
“She is the eighth openly gay life-tenured federal court judicial nominee named by President Obama,” reports HRC. “Prior to the Obama Administration, only one openly gay individual had been confirmed to serve with lifetime tenure on our federal judiciary.”
Among the eight nominees, three were confirmed and one withdrew his nomination after an extended wait for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Pamela Chen of New York awaits a vote by the panel, while Michael McShane, William Thomas and Quiñones are now awaiting hearings.