MIAMI

Religious Community Protests Marco Rubio For Blocking Gay Black Judge

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 17:  People gather on the sidewalk in front of the office of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to ask him to drop
MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 17: People gather on the sidewalk in front of the office of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to ask him to drop opposition to the appointment of Miami-Dade Circuit Judge William Thomas to the federal bench on December 17, 2013 in Miami, Florida. U.S. President Barack Obama nominated Thomas, who would become the first openly gay African-American federal judge, for a judgeship in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida over a year ago, and now Rubio, who originally recommended Thomas to the president for the slot, is now blocking the nomination. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Signs of protest greeted drivers outside Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-FL) office in West Miami Tuesday as members of a local religious community rallied in support of a gay black judge whose nomination to the federal bench has been blocked.

Rubio originally recommended Judge William Thomas for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, where a nearly two-year vacancy has resulted in a severe backlog.

Rubio's nod put Thomas in line to become the first openly gay black male federal judge -- and only the second black judge appointed to a Florida Federal District Court in nearly 20 years -- when President Barack Obama nominated him for the position in November.

Tuesday morning, protestors made their feelings known on the street with signs saying "Judge Thomas deserves the nomination" and "We want a diverse court." Others demanded the senator return the blue approval slip authorizing a hearing on Thomas' nomination.

“He is well trained in the law. He has a good, honest and discerning character that makes him an outstanding judge,” organizer Rev. Carl Johnson of Miami's 93rd Street Baptist Church told the Miami Herald before the protest.

Check out photos from the event, which also drew responding Rubio supporters, below:

rubio

rubio

rubio

rubio

rubio

rubio

rubio

rubio

rubio

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said Judge Thomas would be the first black judge appointed to a federal court in Florida in 20 years; however, Marcia G. Cooke was appointed to the Southern District of Florida in 2004.

CONVERSATIONS