Puerto Rican judge Maite Oronoz Rodriguez has been nominated to head the U.S. territory's Supreme Court as the first openly gay chief justice in the United States.

The 39-year-old was first appointed to the high court in June 2014. She previously served as the commonwealth's deputy solicitor general and chief legal counselor for the city of San Juan.

Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla announced her nomination as chief justice on Friday afternoon.

Gay rights activists hailed the move. Lambda Legal attorney Omar Gonzalez-Pagan on Saturday said the nomination was a significant step toward a judiciary that reflects the growing diversity of the United States.

Lambda is a nonprofit group that aims to achieve full civil rights for gay people.