BREAKING: Senate confirms first openly gay man as federal district judge in Texas

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U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Robert Pitman to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, making him the first openly gay federal district court judge in Texas, according to reports by LGBTQNation.com.

The Western District court had been vacant for six years. The vote to confirm Pitman came late Tuesday evening, Dec. 16.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican who has never been a friend of the LGBT community, is getting credit for Pitman being confirmed — but not because Cruz suddenly had a change of heart on LGBT issues.

In an effort to force a vote on what he called President Obama’s “illegal executive amnesty” for immigrants, Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, on Friday, Dec. 12,  scuttled a bipartisan agreement that would have prevented weekend votes in the Senate. The ban on weekend votes would have meant the Senate would have run out of time before being able to vote on confirming more than a dozen of the president’s judicial and executive nominees, including Pitman, who likely would not have been confirmed if they had been forced to wait until next year when the GOP will control the Senate.

But when Cruz and Lee sidelined the agreement, that opened the door for current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to call the Senate back into session on Saturday and get those votes through.

Pitman, a former magistrate judge in Austin, had led the San Antonio-based federal prosecuting office since 2011 when he became the first openly gay U.S. attorney in Texas. He had also served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the same district from 1990 to 2003.

—  Tammye Nash

What’s Brewing: President Obama to nominate openly gay man for U.S. attorney in Texas

President Barack Obama

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. President Barack Obama is expected to nominate an openly gay man for one of four vacant U.S. attorney positions in Texas. The San Antonio Express-News reports that Obama will nominate U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Lee Pitman of Austin as U.S. Attorney for the Western District, which includes San Antonio, Del Rio and El Paso. Interestingly, Pitman’s nomination is supported by anti-gay Republican Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison. Pitman, a Fort Worth native and graduate of Trinity Valley School, would face a confirmation vote in the Senate. He would not be the first openly gay U.S. attorney, but he would undoubtedly be the first in Texas. Read a detailed profile of Pitman here.

2. In the wake of reports about a Southwest Airlines pilot’s offensive rant over an open cockpit microphone, one California lawmaker is calling on the state to sever its contracts with the airline. Assemblywoman Fiona Ma says she’s not satisfied with the Dallas-based airline’s “slap on the wrist” of the pilot, but as Instant Tea reported Friday, the airline isn’t expected to revisit the disciplinary action.

3. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has released a video invitation to his Aug. 6. Day of Prayer funded by the American Family Association, the anti-gay hate group. Perhaps Perry is getting desperate since only one of 49 governors had RSVP’d affirmatively to his invite for the Day of Prayer as of last week. Watch his video invitation below, and then tell us whether you think “people adrift in a sea of moral relativism” is Perry’s new euphemism for gays.

Gov. Perry’s Invitation to The Response from The Response USA on Vimeo.

—  John Wright