An attempt by a conservative Republican to block the appointment of a federal judge because she had attended a same-sex commitment ceremony was defeated in the US Senate yesterday.

Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas is one of the less prominent politicians vying for the Republican party’s nomination for President.

Last year he blocked the nomination of Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Janet Neff to the federal court, questioning her views on same-sex marriage.

In 2002 the judge had attended the commitment ceremony of the daughter of her neighbours.

The Senate yesterday approved her appointment by 83 to 4.

Conservative activists expressed concerns about Judge Neff after seeing her name in a September 2002 New York Times “Weddings/Celebrations” announcement.

It said she and a minister led the commitment ceremony for Karen Adelman and Mary Curtin.

The Senate Judiciary Committee had approved Judge Neff for a seat on the US District Court in Michigan’s Western District in October 2006 but a single senator can block a nomination by placing it on hold.

Last year gay activists called Senator Brownback’s stance a publicity stunt that is irrelevant to Ms Neff’s qualifications.

“This has got nothing to do with legal or ethical concerns by Sam Brownback and everything to do with him finding another opportunity to show himself to be the mean-spirited bigot that he is,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign.