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Washington (State)

First openly gay justice appointed to Washington state Supreme Court

Thursday, May 1, 2014
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OLYMPIA, Wash. — King County Superior Court Judge Mary Yu was appointed to the Washington state Supreme Court on Thursday, becoming the first gay justice, as well as the first Asian American, to serve on the state’s high court.

Mary Yu

Mary Yu

Yu was appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday. She replaces Justice James Johnson, who announced his retirement last month because of health issues. Johnson’s last day on the bench was Wednesday.

She will be the sixth woman on the current nine-member court and the second ethnic minority. Justice Steven Gonzalez was appointed to the court in 2011 and has since been re-elected.

“The appointment of a Supreme Court justice is a responsibility I take very, very seriously,” Inslee said at a news conference. “Judge Yu has distinguished herself throughout her career.”

Yu was appointed to the King County Superior Court by former Gov. Gary Locke, and previous to that, she served as deputy chief of staff to the late King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng. She’s the first Supreme Court justice appointed by Inslee, who took office in January 2013.

To keep the seat, she will have to run for election in November to serve the rest of Johnson’s term, which was set to expire in January 2017.

When the state’s first gay marriages started taking place around the state on Dec. 9, 2012, she officiated over the first King County marriage just after midnight.

Yu will be taking the seat of the justice who was considered the most conservative member of the court.

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