June 17, 2014 / 9:45 PM / 5 years ago

First black, openly gay man confirmed as U.S. federal judge

MIAMI (Reuters) - The United States’ first black, openly gay male judge was appointed to the federal bench on Tuesday in a unanimous confirmation decision by the U.S. Senate.

Darrin P. Gayles, appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, one of the nation’s busiest federal benches, has served as a Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge since 2011. He was born in Peoria, Illinois in 1966 and earned a law degree from the George Washington University Law School.

The Senate also confirmed Judge Staci Michelle Yandle, an openly gay African-American woman, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. She is the federal bench’s second openly lesbian black woman.

President Barack Obama nominated Gayles for the position in February, after a previous openly gay black nominee from Miami was not confirmed to the federal bench last year.

Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge William L. Thomas was blocked by Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a conservative Republican. A spokeswoman for Rubio said he withdrew his support due to concerns over sentencing in a murder and drunk driving case.

Editing by Letitia Stein, David Adams and Andrew Hay

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