SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rican Senate voted 14-12 to confirm openly lesbian Judge Maite Oronoz Rodriguez as chief justice of the Caribbean island’s Supreme Court, legislative officials said.
After Liana Fiol Mata stepped down from her post as head of the Free Associated State’s high court, Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla designated Oronoz Rodriguez on Feb. 12 to cover the vacancy.
Oronoz Rodriguez has been an associate justice of the Supreme Court since June 2014.
In the years before being considered for the high court’s highest position, she gained experience as a clerk for then-Chief Justice Federico Hernandez Denton, as well as by serving as the Commonwealth’s deputy solicitor general and as chief legal counselor for the San Juan municipality.
Puerto Rico’s most conservative sectors were quick to denounce the appointment.
The highest authority of the Catholic Church on the island, San Juan Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez Nieves, expressed his concern about the naming of a chief justice who openly declares herself a lesbian.