Hon. Stephen M. Lachs|
(September 1939 - living) U.S.A.
California Governor Jerry Brown, who failed to appoint any openly gay people to any position during his first term, cited the failed 1978 Briggs initiative (which sought to ban homosexuals from working in the state's public schools) as the reason for his increased commitment to gay rights.
On September 15, 1979, Governor Brown appointed Stephen Lachs, an openly gay man, to fill a vacancy on the Los Angeles Superior Court, marking the first time an openly gay person had been appointed to a judgeship anywhere in the United States and, according to most sources, anywhere in the world.
Hon. Stephen M. Lachs, left, and Tom Coleman, Los Angeles, California, 1979. Photo c/o Tom Coleman
Tom Coleman, co-chair of the National Committee for Sexual Civil Liberties, said of the appointment: "If anyone deserved the honor of being the first openly gay person to become a judge, Steve did. He has been a role model for lawyers and for gay people for a long time."
Stephen Lachs retired from the bench on october 3, 1999, though he later made headlines for his role as a mediator in the custody dispute between Michael Jackson and ex-wife Debbie Rowe.