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State Supreme Court Justice Andrew McDonald has been nominated to become chief justice, making him the first openly gay state chief justice in the country.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) has nominated McDonald, a longtime friend, according to the CT Mirror. Molloy said McDonald’s intellect, temperament and respect for the rule of law qualified him for the appointment, but he also felt there was “national significance in the nomination,” considering McDonald’s sexual orientation.

The Mirror reports:

McDonald would be the first openly gay chief justice of the highest court in any state, though not any jurisdiction. Maite Orono Rodríguez, who is a lesbian, was confirmed a year ago as the chief justice of the highest court in Puerto Rico. Nationally, there are only about a dozen LGBT justices in state supreme courts.

As an openly gay candidate, McDonald was a political rarity when he was narrowly elected to the state Senate from Stamford in 2002. Three years later, he helped win passage of a civil-unions law that extended marriage rights to same-sex couples, albeit under a different name. The distinction was erased in 2008 in a decision by the court he now hopes to lead.

McDonald, 51, became Connecticut’s first openly gay Supreme Court justice when he joined the court in 2013, the Mirror reports. In 2002, he was narrowly elected to the state Senate. After eight years in the Senate, McDonald became Malloy’s top legal adviser.

Connecticut Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney (D) and Majority Leader Bob Duff (D) both approved of the nomination in a statement.

“Justice Andrew McDonald is a brilliant and thoughtful jurist,” Looney said. “I am certain that Justice McDonald will lead the State Supreme Court will honor, dignity and incisive legal analysis.”

Five of the current seven justices on the state court are appointees of Malloy.


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