When Jenny Durkan became U.S. attorney in Seattle last October, the defense attorney was nation’s first openly gay top federal prosecutor, says the Seattle Times. Durkan spoke yesterday at a Department of Justice’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month ceremony. Durkan said coming out as gays and lesbians professionally takes courage, but it helps to reduce others’ fear and ignorance with “the reality of our humanity.”
Since the appointment of Durkan, 52, two other openly gay U.S. attorneys – Anne Tompkins in North Carolina and Laura Duffy in California – have won confirmation. The event featured a poster board with the photos of 22 high-ranking Justice Department officials who have come out as gays and lesbians. Durkan praised Attorney General Eric Holder for making enforcement of civil rights a priority. That includes enforcing the new Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The law, which President Obama signed in October, protects gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people from bias-motivated violence. Holder said it was the first explicit reference to gender identity in the 225-year history of the U.S. Code.