Name to New York State's Highest Court

Roosevelt Island Pride: Paul G. Feinman First Openly Gay Court of Appeals Judge

Updated 11 weeks ago David Stone
New York State Court of Appeals In Session
New York State Court of Appeals In Session
Photo Credit: Tracy Collins / Creative Commons 2.0 Share/Share Alike License

In June, Governor Andrew Cuomo nominated and the New York State Senate confirmed Paul G. Feinman to sit as an Associate Justice on the Court of Appeals, the State's highest court. Justice Feinman, who lives on Roosevelt Island with his partner Robert Ostergaard, was sworn in last week. In an historic moment, Feinman became the first openly gay judge to take a seat on the court.

It's a stunning reversal for the Court which, as recently as 2006, ruled that same sex couples had no right to marry in New York. Feinman and Ostergaard married in 2013.

Feinman, who recently won a battle with leukemia, replaces Sheila Abdus-Salaam, who died in April.

“Certainly my entire career has been about promoting equal access and equal justice for all, and I hope I add to the diversity of perspectives that the court considers,” he said.

Active in the gay rights movement for more than 20 years, Feinman promised to consider each case coming before the court on its merits.

But the new perspective he brings to Appeals was not lost on many who saw it as a hopeful sign of equality.

Quoted for an article in the New York Times, “There is something profoundly important about finally having a L.B.G.T. person on the bench who brings these life experiences,” said Susan Sommer of the Lambda Legal Defense Fund, who has argued four gay rights cases before the court. “It will certainly enrich the conversation when these issues come before the court.”

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