CA Governor Nominates 1st Gay Black Man To State Supreme Court

Martin Jenskins in his speech after being nominate for CA Supreme Court Justice / Screenshot via Twitter @GavinNewsom

The Federal Supreme Court might be a mess, but at least the California State Supreme Court seems to be doing well.

According to CNN, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Monday, October 5, his nomination for the next California Supreme Court Justice. His nomination for the role is former-athlete-turned-attorney Martin J. Jenkins.


“It has been 29 years since an African American man has served on the California Supreme Court,” Newsome acknowledged in his nomination statement. “Justice Jenkins is widely respected among lawyers and jurists, active in his Oakland community and his faith, and is a decent man to his core…As a critical member of my senior leadership team, I’ve seen firsthand that Justice Jenkins possesses brilliance and humility in equal measure. The people of California could not ask for a better jurist or kinder person to take on this important responsibility.”

If 66-year-old Jenkins is approved by the Commission on Judicial Appointments and the public vote after that, he will be the first openly gay man and third Black man to serve the state as a Supreme Court justice. Prior to this announcement, Jenkins was retired. Initially, Martin Jenkins was an NFL player, believe it or not. But, the call for equality in the justice department later took Jenkins away from sports.


After working in the Bay Area’s criminal justice system and California’s state and federal courts for several decades, Jenkins retired in 2019. But, that retirement did not last long, according to Deadline, as Jenkins later joined Newsom’s administration as the judicial appointments secretary with the goal of enhancing diversity on the state’s benches. Now, it seems that initiative has come back to support Jenkins directly.

Martin Jenkins’ nomination has been celebrated by many people, including Equality California Executive Director Rick Chavez Zbur.

“Governor Newsom’s appointment of California’s first openly gay supreme court justice is a monumental step forward for the LGBTQ+ community and for our entire state,” said Zbur in a statement.

“Not only is Justice Jenkins exceptionally qualified and an outstanding choice for California’s highest court, but he embodies the values of our great state. Governor Newsom is setting a national example as he works to ensure California’s government reflects the diversity of the people they serve.”


When accepting the nomination, Jenkins noted that his possible appointment is an example of the bright futures LGBTQ and Black people can achieve.

“Anyone who knows me knows my identity has been as a gay man, perhaps the greatest challenge of my life,” said Jenkins. “It has not been easy. But I want to say to those young people today who may be watching…that I am not here in spite of the struggle. I am here because of the struggle. It is deep in my character, afforded me sensibilities about the world and people who are not so willing to accept that people are able to love differently than they do.

“I want these young people to know that authenticity is the greatest gift you can give yourself,” he continued powerfully. “And in doing so, people see you. I want to thank you Governor Newsom for seeing me.”

Source: CNN, Deadline,

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