The US Senate has confirmed the first out gay man to serve as a federal court judge.

J Paul Oetken, 45, was last night voted on to the bench for the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York.

He will take up the role as soon as President Obama signs his commission, which could happen this week.

Mr Oetken, a Yale Law School graduate, has worked in the Justice Department and as an associate counsel while President Bill Clinton was in the White House.

He has also worked for LGBT rights, including for the American Civil Liberties Union and the move to repeal sodomy laws in Texas.

He was recommended by Senator Charles Schumer of New York.

In a statement given to The Advocate, Mr Schumer said: “As the first openly gay man to be confirmed as a federal judge, Paul Oetken is living proof that it really does get better.

“His confirmation moves us one step closer toward equality. But long after today, what the history books will remember about Paul are his achievements as a fair and brilliant judge, his unwavering dedication to public service and the Constitution of the United States, and his commitment to the rule of law.”

Mr Oetken will join US District judge Deborah Batts on the bench. Judge Batts is a lesbian and was the first out LGBT person to become a federal judge.