Sunday, April 7, 2013

Out Spotlight

Today's Out Spotlight became the first openly gay federal judge upon her 1994 appointment to the U.S. District Court in New York. Today's Out Spotlight is Deborah A. Batts.

Deborah A. Batts, was born in Philadelphia on April 13, 1947, and earned a. B.A. in government from Radcliffe College in 1969 and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1972.


Making an unusual choice for a woman of her generation, Batts decided to obtain a law degree. She received a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1972. A portrait of the judge now hangs at Harvard, a place not known for its diversity. It is the first portrait of an African-American woman or an out person to be displayed at the school.

She spent the year of 1972-73 as a law clerk for Judge Lawrence W. Pierce of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, the district she now serves. Batts then became an associate at the prominent New York City corporate law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore, where she remained from 1973 to 1979. She handled cases involving securities law, antitrust violations, and libel charges.

Batts left the riches of corporate law for a less prosperous life as an assistant U.S. Attorney in 1979. Serving with the Criminal Division of the Southern District of New York, she prosecuted cases ranging from armed robbery to international art theft. By this point, she had gained a reputation in legal circles as bright, personable, and energetic.

In 1984, she accepted an offer to join the faculty of Fordham University in New York City as an associate professor. She became the first African-American member of the faculty of the Fordham Law School and remained with the university until 1994.

She was a Special associate counsel to the Department of Investigation for New York City from 1990 to 1991.

On January 27, 1994, following the recommendation of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, President Bill Clinton appointed Batts to a seat on the Southern District left open in 1989 when Judge Richard Owen took senior status. Batts was confirmed by the United States Senate on May 6, 1994, and received her commission on May 9, 1994. She continues to serve as an adjunct at Fordham.

Batts has been low-key about her sexuality but has not hidden it. A member of the Lesbian and Gay Law Association of Greater New York, she once urged a graduating class at Fordham Law School to enact laws to protect against anti-gay discrimination.

Her unwillingness to be a gay rights activist undoubtedly aided her rise to the federal bench. Recommended by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, she was nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1994.

The earlier nomination by Clinton of another lesbian--Roberta Achtenberg, as undersecretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development--met with strong opposition. However, the Senate Judiciary Committee never inquired about Batts' sexual orientation, and the Senate quickly confirmed the appointment. Batts began service on the federal bench on June 23, 1994.

Bates has proceeded over many high profile cases including:

1999 - criminal trial of Cheng Yong Wang and Xingqi Fu, charged in scheme to arrange transplant of organs taken from executed Chinese prisoners.

2001-04 - criminal trial of Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, charged with stabbing jail guard while awaiting separate trial in 1998 United States embassy bombings conspiracy.

2006 - civil suit against former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Christine Todd Whitman alleging that she misled people near World Trade Center site about risks of toxic air pollution after September 11, 2001 attacks.

2008 - commercial litigation between Exxon Mobil and PdVSA with regards to Venezuela's expropriation of Exxon assets in the Orinoco Basin of Venezuela.

2009 - litigation regarding the publication of an unauthorized "sequel" to "Catcher in the Rye". Batts ordered an injunction to stop the book to going to press.


Very little is known about Batts's personal life. Divorced with two children, she has refused to discuss much of her life in an attempt to avoid becoming known as the "gay judge."

She has described being a lesbian as "definitely an important part" of her life, but has added that it is only one of many important parts of her life: "I am also a very devoted mother, I'm an attorney, a former prosecutor, and I'm an African American."

On November 12, 2011, however, Judge Batts announced her marriage to Dr. Gwen Zornberg, a lead medical epidemiologist for the Food and Drug Administration. The couple wed in Washington, D.C. at the St. Gregory Hotel. The ceremony was officiated by Emily C. Hewitt, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Federal Claims.

Batts' rise is evidence of a changing climate for gay men and lesbians in the United States. Once considered too deviant to hold positions of trust, openly gay men and lesbians could not hope to serve on the federal bench until Batts broke that barrier.

Her achievement has helped to elevate the status of gay men and lesbians, especially since she has earned wide respect for the way in which she performs her job. Still, it is worth noting that she remains the only openly gay person on the federal bench.


17 comments:

Methodical Muser said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Methodical Muser said...

speculation said...

The co-stars of The Great Gatsby is one association with Jake and I'm now wondering if the Long Island background is too. Jake is known to be someone who likes to leave bread crumbs. Particularly, when he knows he will be protected by his handlers. More evidence it seems to me that Jake has a place in LI.


That is a provocative point, speculation. In fact, you just might be onto something there with your Great Gatsby tie-in. Remember the curious "Jake Holds Hands With Mystery Woman" story back in November 2012? The one with Austin walking by Jake's side as the puffy jacketed one awkwardly tried to hold onto the unidentified female's hand?

To my eyes, that young lady definitely looked Persian and the article goes onto tells us that she "wore basic boots, jeans and a jacket,keeping her ensemble cute but functional". LOL! Functional like maybe a nanny who dresses sensibly for the requirements of her position?

Interestingly enough, the North Shore of Long Island was popularized in modern literature by providing the 1920s exclusive coastline setting for The Great Gatsby. Particularly, Kings Point and Sands Point.

Seventy-five years later, Kings Point, is considered to include the largest Iranian conurbation in the entire United States, with a whopping 29.7% of its population reporting an Iranian Jewish ancestry. Seems like that might be a great pool to draw from, if some affluent gay celebrity was in need of a nanny of Jewish ancestry to help raise their closeted children.

Methodical Muser said...

speculation said...

The co-stars of The Great Gatsby is one association with Jake and I'm now wondering if the Long Island background is too. Jake is known to be someone who likes to leave bread crumbs. Particularly, when he knows he will be protected by his handlers. More evidence it seems to me that Jake has a place in LI.

I italicized speculation's comment in case the PG Blogger police comes along. *wink*

Jersey Tom said...

I agree M and M. I am surprised thay havent pounced already. They must have had a rough. weekend:-)

Hallooo said...

OMG People you are nuts, Long Island??? A big movie about the book is coming out soon, that is why Jake is doing the audio book

prairiegirl said...

in case the PG Blogger police comes along

If I'm a blogger police, does that automatically qualify me to be one of Jake's closest friends? Remember, some of his closest friends now are cops....

lol. Whatever happened with that, anyway? I think it's called promo time is officially over, let's hope they forget.


It does just kill me, that we had articles appear on the net proclaiming the Miss November Vapor of 2011 as his girlfriend, they gave her a name even though she was supposed to be a civilian, spilled the college she was going to to add validity...and she just went Poof! There was no break up story, no trouble in paradise...all of a sudden, he's seeing ol' Em on the sly at picnic tables in Atlanta.

That guy just loves 'em and leaves 'em, doesn't he? What a trail left behind. Good thing some of us are around to help keep the memories 'alive'.

You brought up an interesting point, M and M. Because the light, G rated PDA occurred with husband at his side does make me wonder as well if she was a nanny. That would explain very well to the kids why Papa was holding her hand and see, Daddy is there, too. Nothing to further explain away. In plain sight, no one is ever going to recognize her....

Gingerbread Man mentality. You Can't Catch Me.

Jersey Tom said...

They are like gnats.

destiny said...

Nice to see a profile of Judge Batts. I know about her but haven't read a lot of details about her life and career before becoming a judge. She indeed is one of those people know is gay, but not know with a capital K.

I have to agree that I don't think Jake's reading the Great Gatsby has anything to do with his possibly living out there, but rather is just something he was asked to do, and with the movie coming out it was a project that would get him attention.

How the gingerbread cookie crumbles said...

Guess it's possible about Jake and The Great Gatsby gig. He does like to act like "you can't catch me". That's why he let the stories about his having a kid leak out in the first place. Jake wanted people to know and then he built a whole industry around him to make sure he and Austin were protected from the prying eyes of the public. He really is a coward of the worse kind. Now he floats stupid stories of him with chicks when anyone paying the least amount of attention can tell he's gay. Oh, don't forget the family man tag he gets too. Yet, somehow, at 32 no children. He only loves his nieces apparently. Ted always did say that he gets a rush out of the danger of almost getting caught. Probably why he had that all night baby interaction at Sundance in January.

Jessica Faulkinbury said...

You guys were having some fun here this last week. A few threads back, Austin pics were cute and fun. Love the whole tassel thing. Wouldn't that be fun to see him do. LOL Also love the pics of Jake n Austin in suits. Just Austin pic is wrong, His suit needs to be on the floor. LOL

Hope those football player come out. I can recall that an ex-player came out. I think it was in People mag. It has been awhile not sure of his name.

Hope everyone has a great week. :D

On the road said...

How the gingerbread cookie crumbles I have not words I just feel sorry for you.

Jersey Tom said...

Why are gingerbread cookies so good at Halloween. With sharp cheese:-)

Jersey Tom said...

I feel sorry for us too. But it is so much.fun watching deceitful gay men make fools of themselves.

Honey boo boo said...

Tom mark my words if Austin is gay I'm the Pope.

prairiegirl said...

Hmm, so why is the Paid Troll hanging around here today? Must have to do with Long Island.

As in Long Island.

Because this is the Paid Troll's job. To defend and deflect from the client when something is hitting dangerously close to the truth. One can tell by the topics which the Paid Troll chooses to come over and start acting up about.

Dead giveaway.

Absolutely no doubt in my mind we have someone from the payroll hanging around. He always has been on the payroll. It is so clear to me now and it changes everything.

Special K said...

Hello Honey Boo Boo oh I mean Francis I

prairiegirl said...

Hope everyone has a great week. :D

Thanks, Jess! Hope you do, too. Thanks for coming by - great to see you!!