Yesterday, the Senate confirmed Judge Pamela Ki Mai Chen to a federal court in New York, meaning that there are now a whopping five openly gay judges on the federal bench. Four of these five are Obama appointees, and the fifth, Clinton appointee Deborah Batts, recently took a kind of partial retirement for older judges. As a result, of the nearly 800 men and women who currently serve as active Article III judges in the United States courts, just 4 are openly gay, and none of these serve on courts of appeal or on the Supreme Court.
LGBT representation in Congress is slightly, but only slightly, better. Currently, just over 1 percent of House seats are filled by openly gay lawmakers, and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) is the first openly gay senator in American history. She’s now been a senator for just over two months.
All of this is a long way of saying that a brief House Republicans recently filed in the Supreme Court claiming that the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act should not be struck down on constitutional grounds because “gays and lesbians are one of the most influential, best-connected, best-funded, and best organized interest groups in modern politics” is comically ridiculous. LGBT Americans have indeed made significant strides in recent years, and President Obama deserves praise for doing more to diversify the judiciary than any other president in history, but five openly gay judges and a senator is a far cry from being one of the “most influential” group in the nation.