(A gavel is displayed for a photograph at Harrisburg City Council chambers in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is planning to seize control of Harrisburg’s finances even as City Council members seek bankruptcy for the capital in an effort to ward off state action. Photographer: Paul Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Senate confirms first openly gay Latina judge to federal court

The U.S. Senate confirmed on Thursday the first ever openly gay Latina to the federal judiciary.

Nitza Quiñones Alejandro was nominated by President Obama to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The Senate confirmed her nomination by voice vote.

This is not the first time the Latina judge has broken barriers. She was the first Hispanic woman to serve as a judge on the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas when she was appointed in 1991. She was previously a lawyer in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and an attorney adviser for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Human Rights Campaign spokesman Paul Guequierre commended the Senate for confirming Quiñones Alejandro.

“We are very pleased to see yet another highly qualified, openly-LGBT nominee appointed to the bench. These sorts of appointments should be based on merit which in this situation is the case,” Guequierre says.

Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Bob Casey (D-PA)  took to Twitter to congratulate her.

Quiñones Alejandro received her law degree in 1975 from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law and graduated with honors in 1972 from the University of Puerto Rico with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

“These men and women have had distinguished legal careers and I am honored to ask them to continue their work as judges on the federal bench,” President Obama said when he first nominated the judge back in November. “They will serve the American people with integrity and an unwavering commitment to justice.”

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