March 6, 2021 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Puerto Rican Senate confirms Lesbian to State Supreme Court Chief Justice

BY ANGELO CASIANO  Updated 2/26/2015  |  The Senate of Puerto Rico has confimed  Judge Maite Oronoz Rodríguez to head said United States’ Commonwealth highest court making her the nation’s first openly LGBT Supreme Court Justice.

Judge Oronoz made headlines in the Summer of 2014 when she became the first openly LGBT judge to serve on the Island’s top court.  Before joining the court, Oronoz directed the Department of Legal Affairs for the City of San Juan under Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto.  

Oronoz’s public service career began at the local Justice Department in 2008. Prior to entering public service, she clerked for former Chief Justice Federico Hernández Denton and worked as an associate at the renowned San Juan law firm of McConnell-Valdés.  She holds an undergraduate degree from Villanova University, a Juris Doctor from the University of Puerto Rico, and a Masters in Law from Columbia University.

Legal scholars, former judges, and local LGBT advocacy groups have praised the Governor’s decision.  

Oronoz’s sexual orientation made headlines two years ago, when she became an associate justice.  This time around, however, the public scrutiny has focused on her age.  At 39, Oronoz would not only become the first openly LGBT chief judge of a state court, but would very likely be the youngest in the Nation.  

Unlike federal judges chosen by the President under Article III of the United States Constitution, Puerto Rico Supreme Court judges do not have life appointments. Instead, judges are allowed to serve on the bench until they reach the age of seventy, when they face mandatory retirement.  Oronoz, who will likely be confirmed by the Senate in the coming weeks, would lead the Puerto Rico Supreme Court for the next thirty years. ORONOZ

Garcia Padilla’s political opponents have taken issue with Oronoz’s youth and alleged lack of experience to lead the Court.  Oronoz’s nomination has been harshly criticized by ultra conservative organizations such as “Puerto Rico por la Familia,” a fringe religious group which led the unsuccessful opposition to Senate Bill 238 (aimed at protecting LGBT workers from discrimination) and House Bill 488 (amending the domestic violence statute to include, among others, same-sex and unmarried couples) in 2013. 

The Puerto Rico Supreme Court is currently comprised of nine justices. Last week’s announcement follows the resignation of Chief Justice Liana Fiol Matta, who will turn seventy later this year. Prior to Fiol Matta’s departure, the Court had a 6-3 ideological split, with a solid conservative majority. Fiol Matta often sided with the Court’s liberal bloc.  Thus, Oronoz’s appointment may not immediately alter the ideological composition of the Court.  

Nonetheless, the new Chief Justice made clear that she will direct her efforts as the Court’s leader to spearhead a much needed transformation of the Island’s judiciary.  

Beyond the political or ideological aspects of her appointment, Oronoz’s tenure will undoubtedly enhance the visibility of LGBT professionals and government officials in Puerto Rico.  For Puerto Rico’s LGBT community, this is history in the making.  

Related Posts

Gender Neutral Potato Head

March 4, 2021

March 4, 2021

After 70 years Mr. Potato Head is ditching the binary and going by a new, gender-neutral name. Hasbro has announced...

Lady Gaga’s Dog Walker Shot And Her Dogs Stolen

February 25, 2021

February 25, 2021

Ryan Fischer, Lady Gaga’s dog walker, was the victim of a brutal robbery in West Hollywood Wednesday night.  30 year...

Anti-LGBTQ Talk Show Host Rush Limbaugh Dies At 70

February 18, 2021

February 18, 2021

Controversial talk show host Rush Limbaugh died on Feb. 17th from complications of lung cancer at his home in Palm...

Lady Gaga Oreos Have Hit The Shelves

February 11, 2021

February 11, 2021

Oreo has released a fitting neon green and pink version of their famous cookie in partnership with Lady Gaga celebrating...

Hal Holbrook, Actor Who Played Mark Twain, Dies At 95

February 3, 2021

February 3, 2021

Hal Holbrook, the actor best known for his accurate portrayal of Samuel Clemens — better known as Mark Twain —...

Black History Month: Celebrating Bayard Rustin

January 31, 2021

January 31, 2021

Bayard Rustin was an American leader in social movements for civil rights, socialism, nonviolence, and gay rights. Due to criticism...

Trailblazing Actress Cicely Tyson Dies At 96

January 28, 2021

January 28, 2021

Iconic actress, former model and civil rights activist Cicely Tyson has died at the age of 96.  Tyson’s manager Larry...

Award Decorated Actress, Cloris Leachman, Dead At 94

January 27, 2021

January 27, 2021

Cloris Leachman, Oscar and Emmy winning actress, has died at the age of 94 from natural causes at her home...

Iconic Talk Show Host Larry King, An LGBTQ Ally, Dies At 87

January 23, 2021

January 23, 2021

Larry King, the iconic talk show host and LGBTQ ally died on Saturday Jan. 23rd.  A statement was posted on...

Gay Man From Huntington Beach Stormed Capitol Now “In Fear Of His Life”

January 21, 2021

January 21, 2021

32-year-old Kristopher Dreww a gay hairdresser from Huntington Beach was one of many who rioted the Capitol Building on Jan....

WeHo Will Commemorate MLK Jr. Day With Virtual Donation Drive

January 17, 2021

January 17, 2021

In January 2021, the City of West Hollywood will continue its tradition of joining hundreds of communities across the country...

WeHo Fighting Climate Change

January 6, 2021

January 6, 2021

The City of West Hollywood is currently updating its Climate Action Plan — an effort called “WeHo Climate Action” —...

Two New Council Members Sworn-In To The City Council Of WeHo

December 20, 2020

December 20, 2020

The City of West Hollywood has sworn-in two newly elected Councilmembers: Sepi Shyne and John M. Erickson. Each Councilmember took...

Non-religious LGBTQ Youth Face More Discrimination Than Cis, Straight Peers

December 17, 2020

December 17, 2020

A report from the American Atheists and the Secular Student Alliance, called The Tipping Point Generation: America’s Nonreligious Youth, found...

World AIDS Day

December 3, 2020

December 3, 2020

World AIDS Day, designated on Dec.1st each year, was first observed in 1988.  This year, similar to previous years, organizations...