Gender And Sexuality Column

Thompson: New York Court of Appeals’ 1st openly gay justice is even better news in Pride Month

Jacob Greenfield | Staff Photographer

When nominating Paul Feinman to the court, Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledged Feinman's time serving in the New York state Supreme Court in Manhattan.

UPDATED: June 21, 6:30 p.m. EST

For the New York State Court of Appeals, Pride Month just got a whole lot happier.

New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday his nomination of appellate judge Paul Feinman. Now confirmed, Feinman made history as the first openly gay judge to serve on the court. Feinman’s nomination and confirmation follows the April death of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, who also made history as the first black woman to serve on the court.

In a statement released by the governor’s office on Thursday, Cuomo commended Feinman’s career and said his dedication to and preservation of the law made him “an exceptional addition” to the court, which is the highest court within the state.

“He is a talented jurist who has dedicated his career to public service and standing up for a fairer and more just New York,” Cuomo said in the statement. “Justice Feinman will help ensure that the Court of Appeals upholds the highest principles of law and fairness that embody the very best of New York.”

Feinman, a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School, was elected as a New York City judge in 1996 and has since served on the state supreme court in Manhattan and its appellate division.

Feinman’s confirmation is not just a major win for the LGBTQ community in New York. It also serves as an example of resilience within the Democratic Party amid the tumultuous antics of the federal government. When it comes to the LGBTQ community, representation is of the utmost importance, especially given the plague of intolerance in the White House.

Cuomo’s confirmation of Feinman reinforces the necessity of increased visibility for the gay community. Putting LGBTQ individuals in positions of authority is certainly one way to make long-term progress for LGBTQ peoples within the United States.

After all, it’s not just about getting out of the closet — it’s about finding the light.

Kelsey Thompson is a junior magazine journalism major. Her column appears biweekly. She can be reached at


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