Washington Blade
July 29, 2013

LGBT groups are pressuring the Senate to push forward with the confirmation of the first openly gay black male to the federal bench now that a hold from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is the only hold up in the process.

The confirmation of William Thomas, whom President Obama first named in November for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, was as of last week held up by both U.S. senators in Florida — Bill Nelson and Rubio — who had yet to return the “blue slips” for the nomination even though it had been pending for more than eight months.

But on Wednesday, following the publication of several media reports on the issue — including one from the Washington Blade — Nelson submitted the blue slips for the nomination, according to Senate sources familiar with the process. Dan McLaughlin, a Nelson spokesperson, confirmed the Florida Democrat had returned the blue slips for the nomination.

Nelson’s office had previously said the senator hadn’t submitted the blue slips because the Senate Judiciary Committee hadn’t yet completed the background investigation on the nomination.

Nelson’s lifting of his hold on the nominee means Rubio is now the only senator obstructing Thomas from proceeding through the confirmation process. Other judicial nominees renominated at the start of the 113th Congress have received confirmation, but no action has been taken on Thomas.