New York’s highest court’s first openly gay judge is sworn in

PinkNews logo with white background and rainbow corners

The highest court in New York today get its first openly gay judge.

After a swearing in ceremony in Albany today, Judge Paul Feinman will take his place on the Court of Appeals.

The position was made vacant following the death of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam in April.

Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam had been the first African-American to be appointed to a seat on the New York Court of Appeals.

New York’s highest court’s first openly gay judge is sworn in
Sheila Abdus-Salaam

She was also the first female Muslim judge in the US.

During her career, the judge helped require the state of New York’s parenting laws, which allowed same-sex couples to seek help during custody disputes.

This included the “biological” definition of parenthood.

Feinman was approved unanimously by the state Senate after he was appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“When we looked at the cases that Judge Feinman decided over the years, one of the things that impressed me the most was that he always reviewed the law in front of him and to the best of his ability he always tried to apply the law without any bias or prejudice,” said Senate Judiciary Committee John Bonacic when the appointment was first announced.

Feinman worked his way up from New York city courts through to the Appelate Division.

His husband was present for his approval by the Senate, as well as the state’s chief judge Janet DiFiore.

The appointment was celebrated by LGBT groups in the state.

Back in 2012 as Justice of the Manhattan State Supreme Court, Judge Feinman severely criticised the health officials of the city for the complex bureaucratic requirements that trans men and women must negotiate in order to update details on their identity documents such as passports.

“It does not seem very likely that an individual would go through all the years of required preparation for surgical transition, including psychotherapy, undergo major surgery, assume life under his or her new gender, and then decide it was all a mistake and change back,” Feinman wrote in his judgement at the time.

“This apparent assumption tends to suggest a certain ignorance by the department of the lengthy transition process and the lives and experience of transgender people.”