July 15, 2011 at 10:35 am EST | by Chris Johnson
Senate to vote Monday on gay judicial nominee

J. Paul Oetken (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The U.S. Senate is set on Monday to vote on a gay judicial nominee, who, if confirmed, would become the first openly gay male to sit on the federal bench, the Washington Blade has learned.

A Senate Democratic aide said the vote on J. Paul Oetken’s nomination would take place on Monday at 5:30 pm. President Obama nominated Oetken in January for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The aide said unanimous consent was reached in the Senate to vote on the Oetken nomination, so Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) won’t need to file cloture and find 60 votes to proceed. For confirmation, a simple majority of senators must approve Oetken by an up-or-down vote.

In April, the Senate Judiciary Committee reported out Oetken’s nomination unanimously to the Senate floor by voice vote. Observers have expressed optimism that Oetken would find sufficient support to receive confirmation on the Senate floor.

Oetken has practiced law at Debevoise and Plimpton, and since 2004, served as associate general counsel at Cablevision. From 1999 to 2001, Oetken was associate counsel to President Clinton and specialized in First Amendment issues, presidential appointments, ethics, civil rights, and legal policy.

Additionally, Oetken served in various capacities as an LGBT advocate. The nominee has been involved with Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union. Oetken also co-authored a U.S. Supreme Court friend-of-the-court brief in Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down sodomy laws throughout the country.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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