A unanimous vote on Tuesday confirmed the appointment of the first openly gay federal circuit judge in the U.S.
Todd Hughes, a former Department of Justice lawyer, made history when he was voted to serve on the court of appeals by 98-0.
Mr Hughes will become the highest-ranking openly gay judge, in a move praised by rights groups.
‘Judge Hughes is a remarkably qualified jurist who has served his country tirelessly, and today that commitment to service made history,’ Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin told NBC Politics.
‘As an openly gay man takes to the federal appellate court bench for the very first time, barriers to achievement for the next generation of LGBT young people are crumbling every day,’ he said.
Mr Hughes is the eighth openly gay judge with an appointment for life. Seven others serve on the district courts.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy said he was proud of the Senate’s decision to increase diversity.
The 46-year-old Duke Law School graduate has experience in issues likely to come up at the court, including government contracts, benefits for police and veterans, and international trade.
Geovette Washington, Office of Management and Budget’s general counsel who went to law school with Mr Hughes, described him as a ‘problem solver’ and told the Washington Post he ‘can do very complicated constitutional issues’.
Other rights groups, including the Alliance for Justice, which tracks judicial nominations, and the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, also praised the outcome of the ballot.
‘Today’s vote to confirm Todd Hughes marks another milestone in the long journey toward justice and equality,’ Alliance president Nan Aro said, according to Buzz Feed.
Barack Obama nominated Mr Hughes in February. He was the second openly gay judge to be nominated by the President. The nomination for the first never progressed.