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Austinite Could Become First Openly Gay US Attorney in Texas

The US Courts, Western District of Texas includes Austin, Waco, El Paso, San Antonio and many other cities.
Image courtesy of US Justice Dept.
The US Courts, Western District of Texas includes Austin, Waco, El Paso, San Antonio and many other cities.

Texas may get its first openly gay U.S. attorney. The San Antonio Express-News reports President Obama is set to nominate U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Lee Pitman of Austin as U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, an area that stretches from El Paso to Austin.  

“These nominees have proven to be tenacious and diligent in their pursuit of justice and I am honored to nominate them to serve their fellow Americans as U.S. attorneys,” Obama said in a release sent to the Justice Department and Texas senators in advance of the expected nominations.

Pitman was recommended by U.S. Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison, two Texas politicians not exactly known for their gay rights advocacy. TheHuman Rights Campaign– a gay rights group – gave both Hutchison and Cornyna zero in their annual scorecards.

When the Dallas Morning News revealed in 2009 that the Texas Senators had endorsed Pitman, it angered some social conservatives, according to the legal news blog Main Justice.

Texas Home School Coalition president Tim Lambert,who is a Perry supporter, told The Morning News that recommending Pitman was “very unusual and disturbing."

(The original Dallas Morning News Story is now behind the paper’s paywall.)

For his part, Cornyn’s spokesman said at the time that a person’s sexual orientation has nothing to do with his or her qualification for the job.

President Obama has nominated gay people to be U.S. attorneys before.  But Pitman would be the first in Texas, according to the Dallas Morning News. Like all U.S. attorney nominees, he would face confirmation in the U.S. Senate.

Judge Pitman is also an adjunct professor at the University of Texas School of Law.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.