Lesbian achievement in government and society took a giant leap forward as President Obama nominated Staci Michelle Yandle to the Southern District Court of Illinois. If Yandle wins confirmation, she will be the first black judge to this court and the first openly lesbian judge on the Seventh Circuit encompassing Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. Yandle’s nomination shows Obama’s continuing commitment to diversity.
“I am pleased to nominate these distinguished individuals to serve on the United States District Court bench. … I am confident they will serve the American people with integrity and a steadfast commitment to justice.” stated the president regarding not only Yandle; but also other court nominees; Stephen Bough to sit in the Western District of Missouri; and Richard Franklin Boulware II for the U.S. district Court in Nevada. These nominees stand a good chance of being confirmed by the democratically controlled Senate under Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. In the latter part of 2013 the Senate “filibuster” rules were changed to a simple majority “up or down” vote.
In a July 2012 interview with justice.org, Yandle stated, “When I first started practicing, for a while I did not feel comfortable acknowledging my sexual orientation because I didn’t want it to cost me my job. I wanted to be judged on my merit and my merit alone. Many members of the LGBT community still have that fear. We are a traditional profession that is conservative in many ways.”
Yandle has been has been practicing law for 20 years and in private practice, the Law Offices of Staci M. Yandle, since 2007. Yandle also is a former law school professor and sits on the Board of Directors for the Illinois Bar Foundation. Yandle attended the University of Illinois and Vanderbilt University School of law. Yandle is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.