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Popular Topics in Social Sciences
Stonewall Riots Stonewall Riots
The confrontations between police and demonstrators at the Stonewall Inn in New York City the weekend of June 27-29, 1969 mark the beginning of the modern glbtq movement for equal rights.
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Anthony, Susan B. Anthony, Susan B.
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Congratulations to Judge Pamela Ki Mai Chen
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 03/05/13
Last updated on: 03/05/13
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Congratulations to Pamela Ki Mai Chen, whose nomination to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on March 4, 2013. She was nominated to the federal bench by President Obama in the summer of 2012. When she takes the oath of office, she will become nation's first openly gay Asian-American federal judge.

As Justin Snow resports in MetroWeekly, Chen was confirmed by voice vote with very little opposition on the evening of March 4. In addition to becoming the first openly lesbian Asian-American to serve on the federal bench, she will also be only the second Chinese-American woman to hold a lifetime appointment to the federal judiciary.

The daughter of Chinese immigrants, Chen is a graduate of the University of Michigan and of Georgetown Law School. Since 1998, she has served as assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New York. Earlier in her career she worked as a civil rights attorney. For four months in 2008, she served as deputy commissioner for enforcement for the New York State Division of Human Rights.

When President Obama nominated Chen in August 2012, he said that she would "serve on the federal bench with distinction."

Her nomination was recommended to the President by Senator Chuck Schumer, who described her as a "trailblazer in every sense of the word."

In a statement Senator Schumer added, "Ms. Chen's wealth of experience and devotion to public service make it clear that she will be an excellent judge."

Chen is the fourth openly gay judicial nominee confirmed during the Obama administration. The others are Judges J. Paul Oetken and Alison Nathan , who both now sit on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York; and Judge Michael Fitzgerald, who sits on the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Awaiting confirmation by the Senate is attorney Todd M. Hughes, who has been nominated by President Obama to a seat on the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. If confirmed by the United States Senate, Hughes will become the first openly gay appeals court judge in American history.

Also awaiting confirmation by the Senate are Judge William Thomas of Miami, who was nominated in October 2012 to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida; and Judge Nitza I. Quiñones Alejandro of the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, who was nominated in November 2012 to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Another openly gay judicial nominee put forward by President Obama, Edward DuMont, was nominated for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Dumont withdrew his nomination after there was no movement on it over the course of two sessions of Congress.

Before President Obama, only one openly gay or lesbian person was nominated to the federal bench. Judge Deborah Batts, the first openly lesbian federal judge, was nominated by President Clinton and serves on the Southern District of New York bench. She took "senior status," a near retirement, in 2012.

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