Gay law school alumnus makes history with confirmation to federal bench

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Christie Carpenter.

A GW Law School alumnus will become the first openly gay black man to serve as a U.S. federal judge after the senate approved his nomination Tuesday.

Senators voted unanimously for Darrin Gayles, who graduated from GW in 1993, to fill a Florida southern district court seat.

Gayles is moving to the district court after serving three years as a Florida circuit court judge. President Barack Obama nominated him for the federal position in February.

Before receiving his law degree from GW, Gayles earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Howard University.

Nadine Smith, chief executive officer of the LGBT civil rights group Equality Florida, said in a statement that she was glad the senate looked past Gayles’ sexual orientation and focused on his qualifications.

“There was a time when racism and homophobia would have prevented the best candidate from being appointed,” she said.

The senate also confirmed Staci Yandle to the federal bench Tuesday for the southern district of Illinois as the nation’s second-ever lesbian black federal judge.

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