03/06/2013 10:54 am ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Pamela Chen, Asian American Gay Judge, Appointed To Federal Bench

After more than thirteen years with the Department of Justice, Pamela Chen has been confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York by the U.S. Senate, making her the first openly gay Asian American to be confirmed as a judge on the federal bench, the HRC is reporting.

President Barack Obama has nominated four openly gay constituents to be confirmed to a federal judgeship with lifetime tenure and Bill Clinton nominated one during his presidency, which makes Chen the fifth. There are four other openly gay nominees currently impending in the Senate.

The Chicago native pledged fairness on the bench during her September 2012 confirmation hearing, the Washington Blade reports.

“The assurances I can give you are based on my career as a public servant and working for the Department of Justice,” she is quoted by the Blade as saying at the time. “No one accused me of ever making a decision based on any kind of political ideology, and I think my record speaks for itself over the last 20 years.”

During Chen’s last eight years she has served as the Chief of the Civil Rights Section of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York. The new judge of Chinese heritage has supervised the investigation and prosecution of criminal civil rights matters, including hate crimes, color-of-law offenses and human trafficking throughout her career.

The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association and the Asian American Justice Center have both congratulated Chen.

In a statement released to Towleroad at the time of Chen's nomination, Obama said, “I am proud to nominate this outstanding candidate to serve on the United States District Court bench. Pamela Chen has a long and distinguished record of service, and I am confident she will serve on the federal bench with distinction.”



LGBT Asians