Obama Nominates Lesbian Hispanic Judge to Federal Bench

On Tuesday President Obama nominated three individuals for open positions on the U.S. District Court, one of whom if confirmed would be the first openly gay Hispanic judge to preside in a federal courtroom.

Judge Nitza I. Quiñones Alejandro, who currently serves on the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, was nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.).

Two other judges, Luis Felipe Restrepo and Jeffrey L. Schmeh, were also nominated to the same court to fill three of six vacancies on the 22-judge court. Individuals nominated to the federal bench must receive the support of at least 60 of the 100-members of the U.S. Senate.

Assuming the Senate confirms her, Quiñones Alejandro would become the first gay Hispanic woman to serve on the federal bench, according to the gay rights organization Human Rights Campaign. She was appointed to her current position in 1991 and prior to that was an attorney in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"These men and women have had distinguished legal careers and I am honored to ask them to continue their work as judges on the federal bench," said President Obama. "They will serve the American people with integrity and an unwavering commitment to justice."

According to the Human Rights Campaign, Quiñones Alejandro is the eighth openly gay person nominated by President Obama for a life-tenured federal appointment. The Senate has confirmed three of his homosexual nominees, one withdrew their name from consideration and one is awaiting a vote by the full Senate Judiciary Committee.

Quiñones Alejandro received her B.B.A. in 1972 from the University of Puerto Rico and her J.D. in 1975 from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law.

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