Martin Jenkins is officially the California Supreme Court’s first openly gay justice.
Jenkins, a lifelong Democrat, was unanimously confirmed after an hourlong hearing this Tuesday, November 10, the Los Angeles Times reports. He was nominated by California Gov. Gavin Newsom and has extensive judicial experience—including a stint as Newsom’s judicial appointments secretary, during which he interviewed and vetted candidates for the court vacancy he has now filled.
The 66-year-old is the court’s first out justice and its fifth Black justice. In a previous interview with the Times, Jenkins said he began publicly coming out five years ago.
— NOH8 Campaign (@NOH8Campaign) November 10, 2020
Jenkins’ confirmation comes on the heels of a historic election cycle for LGBTQ equality. As NewNowNext previously reported, last Tuesday’s general election saw more than 160 openly LGBTQ candidates elected to state, local, and federal offices. Joe Biden, a pro-equality Democrat, also defeated incumbent President Donald Trump in the race for the presidency. After nearly four years of nonstop attacks on LGBTQ civil liberties, Biden’s win was cause to celebrate for many queer people across the country.
In a statement, Imani Rupert-Gordon, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), lauded Jenkins’ historic confirmation. The accomplished judge “brings a distinguished abundance of experience both as a civil rights litigator and as a federal and state judge to the court,” she said.
“Jenkins’ confirmation as the first LGBTQ justice also sends a strong message to both Black and LGBTQ youth in particular that they can achieve any aspiration that they dream of, and who for the first time in our state’s history will see themselves reflected at the highest level of our state’s judiciary,” Rupert-Gordon added.