The Senate voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to confirm Todd Hughes to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, making him the first openly gay judge to serve on an appeals court in the United States.
The Senate confirmed Hughes, a lawyer in the U.S. Department of Justice’s civil division, by a vote of 98-0. President Barack Obama nominated him in February after the nomination of another gay nominee stalled.
Hughes has specialized in federal personnel matters, veterans’ benefits and international trade.
“I am proud that today the Senate is finally taking this critical step to break down another barrier and increase diversity on our Federal bench,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat.
While Hughes is the first openly gay judge on an appellate court, a step below the U.S. Supreme Court, at least seven gay or lesbian judges now serve or have served on federal district courts.