First Openly Gay Black Man Appointed To California Supreme Court
Justice Martin Jenkins has made history as the first LGBTQ+ Black man to be appointed to California’s Supreme Court.
The appointment, announced by the court on November 10, was approved by a unanimous vote.
Aside from being the first openly gay person to be appointed to the position, he is only the third Black man to serve on California’s Supreme Court. It has been 29 years since a Black man served on the state’s highest court.
The Independent Commission on Judicial Appointments released a separate report on November 6, honouring Jenkins’ ’30-year record of professional accomplishments’ as well as his ‘strength of character, compassion, and integrity’.
The report said:
His compassion, humility, lifelong commitment to public service, and passion for justice make him a most deserving and worthy addition to the state’s highest court.
The news is a welcome decision after Jenkins accepted his nomination for the position last month. He was nominated by Governor Gavin Christopher Newsom.
In recent years, Jenkins has been forthcoming about his sexuality, and has spoken out on how his sexual orientation has impacted his life and career.
In an announcement to the press last month, Jenkins said:
I want these young people to know that living a life of authenticity is the greatest gift you can give yourself. And if you do that, you too will find yourself in a position where people see you… Thank you, Governor Newsom, for seeing me
The appointment is a milestone for the LGBTQ+ community in the US, where gay marriage was only legalised in all 50 states in 2015 under the Obama administration.
Equality California, a nonprofit that advocates for the rights of LGBTQ+ people in the state, had also welcomed Jenkins’ nomination, as Pink News reports.
Last month, the Equality California’s executive director, Rick Chavez Zbur, described the nomination as a ‘monumental step’:
Not only is Justice Jenkins exceptionally qualified and an outstanding choice for California’s highest court, but he embodies the values of our great state. Governor Newsom is setting a national example as he works to ensure California’s government reflects the diversity of the people they serve.
Jenkins first began practising law in 1980, after receiving his degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law. Before this, he studied History on a football scholarship at Santa Clara University.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 10am–6pm Monday to Friday, or email [email protected]
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