New Jersey Governor Names First Openly Gay Judge to State's High Court

Bruce A. Harris strikes a blow for gay rights, and becomes the third African-American to be seated on the state's Supreme Court. 

Posted: 01/23/2012 07:35 PM EST

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made history on Monday by moving to diversify the state’s all-white Supreme Court with the nomination of an openly gay Black man and a Korean-born state proecutor.


The nominations of Bruce A. Harris, who would become New Jersey's first openly gay justice, and Phillip H. Kwon, who would become the state’s first Asian member of the court and the first person born outside the United States to be sworn in, were announced on Monday by the governor at the statehouse in Trenton, the state capital.


"I am proud to be standing here today to announce two historic nominations to the New Jersey State Supreme Court," Christie said at a news conference, expressing "extreme confidence in their records and respect for their intellect."


Harris, 61, is the mayor of Chatham Borough in Morris County, N.J. If confirmed, he would be the first openly-gay justice and third African-American to be seated on the court. He thanked his partner of 32 years for “love and support even when I decided to change careers and attend law school — a decision that meant that for three years we were apart for extended periods of time."


There are currently six openly gay justices who sit on state Supreme Courts nationwide.


Kwon, 44, works in the state Attorney General's Office.


The nominations still require confirmation from the state senate.


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(Photo: Courtesy of the Borough of Chatham)