Great AP story by Gene Johnson might not get as much coverage as one would like on the day President Obama signed the Hate Crimes Bill into law, but the new top federal prosecutor in Seattle is the nation's first openly gay U.S. attorney. Here you go-
'But as a daughter of privilege — her dad was a powerful Democratic state senator, and she had all the benefits of a comfortable upbringing and a good education — Jenny Durkan also recalls what someone once told her: "You're the most non-diverse diverse person I know." '
"I don't think I can fully appreciate how important it is to many people to have someone in a role like this who is gay," Durkan said this week in an interview with The Associated Press. "The more people are able to see people in situations where pretty soon that's an invisible characteristic, the better it is for the entire community."
Gay rights activists say her appointment reflects a growing acceptance in the U.S. as well as the attitude of President Barack Obama's administration. Earlier this month, Obama nominated an openly gay police sergeant to be the U.S. marshal in Minneaopolis; she would be the first openly gay U.S. marshal. We cannot underestimate the significance of Obama embracing diversity at every level. Fox News calls it radical. It is not. It is America.
Durkan, 51, has been named to the Attorney General's Advisory Committee, where she will head a subcommittee on cybercrimes and intellectual property. The FBI is building a new cybercrime center in the old federal courthouse in Seattle, and the U.S. attorney's office here has done novel work in prosecuting such cases.
Before being confirmed by the Senate a month ago, Durkan performed a wide variety of civil litigation and criminal defense work, and was active in bar associations. In 2002 she traveled to Morocco to train female candidates for parliament. She has been Gov. Chris Gregoire's personal attorney and confidante, and represented the Democratic Party when Gregoire's 133-vote re-election win was confirmed in court.
Durkan has said she did some of her most satisfying work using lawsuits to force institutional reform — such as changes in how the King County Jail handles mentally ill prisoners after one who had been recently released stabbed a firefighter to death.
To that end, she's spoken with local prosecutors, state and federal agencies and the governor's office about bringing those groups together to coordinate better responses to environmental crimes, for example.
Ultimately, she said, she hopes to be judged on how the U.S. attorney's office handles those threats — not on her sexual orientation.
"In this region I don't think it's very remarkable that you have someone who is gay in a position of authority, because it's woven throughout our culture and has been," Durkan said. "In other parts of the country it might be, but I think a generation from now it will be a footnote."