Judge William Thomas
Obama Nominates Gay Black Man to Federal Judgeship

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com November 14 2012 7:07 PM ET

President Obama today nominated William Thomas to a judgeship on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, an appointment that, if confirmed, would make Thomas the first openly gay black man to be a life-tenured federal judge.

Thomas, currently a judge on a state court in Florida, was recommended for the federal nomination by the Presidential Appointments Project, coordinated by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, BuzzFeed reports.

There has been one out lesbian black federal judge, Deborah Batts, appointed by President Clinton. Batts, a judge in the Southern District of New York, was also the first out LGBT federal judge overall. “She took ‘senior status,’ a near retirement, earlier this year,” BuzzFeed notes.

Thomas was one of seven judicial nominees announced by Obama today. The president issued a statement saying the nominees “have demonstrated the talent, expertise, and fair-mindedness Americans expect and deserve from their judicial system” and “represent my continued commitment to ensure that the judiciary resembles the nation it serves.”

Thomas joins two previously announced out judicial nominees, Pamela Ki Mai Chen and Michael McShane, in awaiting confirmation by the Senate. The Senate has confirmed three other LGBT judges nominated by the president, and the nomination of one other was withdrawn.

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund provided The Advocate with a statement about the nomination.


“We’re delighted in the president’s appointment of Judge Thomas, who we recommend as a patient and hard-working man of incredible character," said president and CEO Chuck Wolfe. "We believe he’s made an excellent jurist in Florida and will make an excellent federal jurist.”