GLAD mourns the recent passing of Federal District Judge Deborah Batts. Appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by President Bill Clinton in 1994, Batts was the first openly lesbian judge on the federal bench.

“Judge Batts was a fierce intellect, and an incisive critic when needed,” said GLAD Civil Rights Project Director Mary L. Bonauto, “and also warm, generous, funny, and down-to-earth. I’m honored to have crossed paths with her in legal and LGBT circles over the years.  We all benefitted from her passionate intelligence on and off the bench, and personally, I was lucky to have had the chance to talk with her about her love of music, and her fondness for Maine, which is the place I call home. As an African-American, lesbian judge on the federal circuit, Batts was a trailblazer for our communities, for the judiciary, and for our country.”

GLAD expresses gratitude for Judge Batt’s work and impact, and extends deepest condolences to her family and loved ones, including her beloved spouse Gwen Zornberg.