Justice Martin Jenkins, a gay former prosecutor and judge, has been nominated to California’s Supreme Court. The appointment comes from the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, and marks the first time an openly gay man has been nominated to the high court in California history.
“Anyone who knows me knows my identity as a gay man has been the greatest challenge of my life; it has not been easy,” Jenkins said during personal remarks on Monday. “But I want to say today to those young people who may be watching … that I am not here in spite of the struggle; I’m here because of the struggle.”
“I want these young people to know that living a life of authenticity is the greatest gift you can give yourself,” he continued. “And if you do that, you too will find yourself in a position where people see you. … Thank you, Governor Newsom, for seeing me.”
Jenkins is currently awaiting confirmation from the state’s Commission on Judicial Appointments, although it’s expected to go through. The confirmation would make Jenkins the first Black man to serve on the court in 29 years, as well as the first openly LGBTQ+ person. Jenkins’ nomination comes on the heels of Justice Ming Chin, a Republican considered the court’s most conservative member, who retired at the end of August.
Prior to the nomination, Jenkins had been working as Newsom’s judicial appointments secretary since January 2019 — a role he took after coming out of retirement. Before that, he served as a California Court of Appeals justice and a U.S. District Court of Northern California judge. Jenkins also briefly played professional football for the Seattle Seahawks.
“Trust me,” said Governor Newsom said of Jenkins’ nomination. “As someone who understands first-hand the role of the court in determining marriage equality to be a fundamental right, I can’t tell you how important it is to have someone on the bench who’s a living, breathing example of the idea that ‘love means love.’”