(NBC News) — By a unanimous vote, the Senate on Tuesday confirmed the nation’s first openly gay federal circuit judge.

The vote was 98-0 to approve Todd Hughes, previously a Department of Justice lawyer, to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. He will be the highest-ranking openly gay judge in the nation’s history.

Gay rights groups praised the Senate’s approval of the nomination.

“Judge Hughes is a remarkably qualified jurist who has served his country tirelessly, and today that commitment to service made history,” said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin. “As an openly gay man takes to the federal appellate court bench for the very first time, barriers to achievement for the next generation of LGBT young people are crumbling every day.”

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