From the Washington Blade:
Michael Fitzgerald, whom President Obama nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in July, was approved by a vote of 91-6. A simple majority was required for confirmation.
The six senators who voted “no” were Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and David Vitter (R-La.)…The Senate Judiciary Committee reported out his nomination in November unanimously by voice vote to the Senate floor, but his confirmation has been held up along with other nominees…
Most recently, Fitzgerald worked at Corbin, Fitzgerald & Athey LLP in 1998, but prior to that experience, he worked at the Law Offices of Robert L. Corbin PC and at the law firm of Heller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe.
The new judge also served as an assistant U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, where he handled criminal cases, such as a drug and money laundering case involving what at that time was the second-largest cocaine seizure in California.
In his questionnaire response to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Fitzgerald wrote that he has participated in some LGBT activism, including the 2008 campaign against Proposition 8 as a door-knocker. Fitzgerald is also a member of the Harvard-Radcliffe Gay & Lesbian Caucus. From 2007 to 2008, he served on the leadership task force for the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center. In the 1990s, he was a member of the Stonewall Democratic Club.
Fitzgerald isn’t a stranger to represent client in cases related to LGBT rights. He was involved in the settlement of Buttino v. FBI, the 1993 class-action lawsuit involving Frank Buttino, a gay FBI specialist who was anonymously outed to his superior, resulting in the removal of his security clearance and subsequent firing. Fitzgerald asked his law firm at the time to represent Buttino on a pro bono basis.
As a result of the settlement, the FBI renounced its prior policy of viewing homosexuality as a negative factor in regard to security clearances, the FBI agreed to hire an openly lesbian special agent and Buttino’s pension was restored.
Fitzgerald is the fourth out federal judicial nominee chosen by the White House, but third one to receive confirmation from the Senate. Fitzgerald’s confirmation makes him the first openly gay federal judge to serve in California.
In July, the Senate confirmed J. Paul Oetken to the U.S. District Court of Southern District of New York, making him the first openly gay male to sit on the federal judiciary. In October, the Senate confirmed lesbian Alison Nathan to the same court.
Another one of Obama’s gay judicial nominees, Edmund DuMont, was withdrawn after he asked the White House to remove him from consideration. DuMont was first nominated on April 14, 2010, but his nomination languished for more than 18 months without the taking Senate taking action. He was nominated the U S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and would have been the first openly gay federal appellate judge.