WASHINGTON – The Senate for the first time confirmed an openly gay black man to become a top-level federal judge. By a 98-0 vote Tuesday, senators approved President Barack Obama's choice of Darrin Gayles to join a district court in Florida.
By 52-44, senators also endorsed Obama's pick of Staci Yandle, an openly gay black woman, to serve on a federal district court in Illinois. While that is not a first, the White House said that vote was a milestone because it brought to 112 the number of female federal judges appointed by Obama, more than any previous president.
In a third roll call, the Senate voted 92-4 to make Salvador Mendoza a federal district judge in Washington state. The White House said Obama has appointed the most Hispanics -- 31 -- to the federal bench of any president.
In a blog post, presidential counsel Neil Eggleston called it "a historic day for our judiciary."
"These milestones are important not because these judges will consider cases differently, but because a judiciary that better resembles our nation instills even greater confidence in our justice system" and serve as future role models, Eggleston said.
Appointments to top-tier federal judgeships -- the Supreme Court, circuit courts of appeals and district courts -- are lifetime.