First Openly Gay Man Nominated To California Supreme Court
Justice Martin Jenkins has accepted a nomination to become a member of the Californian Supreme Court this week, after Governor Gavin Newsom put forward his name.
Justice Jenkins is a former judge and prosecutor in the state, who acknowledged and accepted the naming during a press conference alongside Newsom.
Providing the state’s Commission on Judicial Appointments greenlight the decision, it’ll be an historic occasion for several reasons. Not only will it be the first Black man to serve on the court in almost three decades (the last was in 1991), but it will, for the first time ever, see a member of the LGBTQ+ community represented too, as Justice Martin is openly gay.
The 66-year-old did not hold back when describing the way his sexual orientation had impacted his life and subsequently his career, saying, ‘It has not been easy,’ and that, ‘anyone who knows me knows my identity as a gay man has been the greatest challenge of my life.’
Jenkins reiterated that he was a genuine and authentic person and, as a result, is what has got him to this stage of his successful career:
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.
Hoping to be an inspiration to many young people out there, whether it resonates with people who feel less heard due to their skin colour or sexuality, he said: ‘But I want to say today to those young people who may be watching… that I am not here in spite of the struggle; I’m here because of the struggle.’
To put his life obstacles into perspective, gay marriage was only legalised in all 50 states in 2015 under the Obama administration, with each state adhering to its own set of marriage laws as recognised by the Supreme Court’s guarantee of equality to all its citizens.
‘As someone who understands first-hand the role of the court in determining marriage equality to be a fundamental right, I can’t tell you how important it is to have someone on the bench who’s a living, breathing example of the idea that ‘love means love’,’ said Gov. Newsom.
Jenkins, who hails from San Francisco, has been Newsom’s judicial appointments secretary since the start of 2019, a role he came out of retirement to fulfil. Before that, he was the justice at the California Courts of Appeals and a judge for the U.S. District Court of Northern California.
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