Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-10-16
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Sebastian Patti: Legal icon talks past, health issues and accomplishments
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times.
2019-08-07

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


To say Sebastian Patti has achieved milestones—for himself and the LGBTQ community—might be giving him short shrift.

More than two decades ago, Patti, 66, became the first openly gay appointed judge and, in 2009, he took his seat as the first openly gay appellate court justice. He retired from being a Cook County Circuit Court judge last year, and is now in Los Angeles, hearing asylum cases for the U.S. Department of Justice. Recently, he received an award from the Alliance of Illinois Judges—a group of lesbian and gay judges in Cook County.

Windy City Times: Looking into your background, I noticed that you were a history/science major [at Duke University]. What propelled you to go into law?

Sebastian Patti: Zoology is a real passion of mine—birds, and so forth. However, the reason I went into law is [really] simple: My father believed that a legal education was extraordinarily important. He admired lawyers a lot, and he thought the world of his personal lawyer. He thought practicing law would be hugely beneficial for me.

And—I hope you're sitting down for this—when I went to law school in Kansas ( so it was an in-state school ), tuition was $750 a semester! We certainly don't do that any more.

I was interested in environmental law. I teamed up with a professor to write a couple law-review articles on wildlife law.

WCT: And on a more personal level, when did you come out?

SP: You know, I knew I was gay when I was in high school—11th or 12th grade. By the time I went to college, I knew I was gay—and I didn't hide it. By the time I moved to Chicago in '79, I was completely out.

WCT: And the political climate for the [LGBTQ] community has changed since then.

SP: I'll say! If someone had put a gun to my head in 1995, when I was appointed judge, and said that same-sex marriage would be a constitutionally protected right, I would've said, "Absolutely no way."

WCT: You've established some firsts in your legal career. Do you see yourself as a role model?

SP: I actually don't. My position is that I have been so lucky in life, and life has presented me with so many options that I feel an obligation to give back—no matter how that manifests itself. I try to capitalize on it, so if I have a way, an approach or a manner at looking at an issue, I do it. If that ends up the sum and substance of being a role model, I plead guilty.

When I got that award on June 26 [from the Alliance of Illinois Judges]. … I [mean], I received an award that was named after me! What an honor—but, with my self-deprecating humor, I said, "I'm still alive, and I'm getting this award!" I raised my right hand and swore I'd never jaywalk again. [Laughs] It really was a wonderful event.

WCT: You've moved to L.A. There are some who thought you'd be in Chicago forever.

SP: I had some health issues. I was diagnosed with throat cancer in early 2016. Of course, it was life-altering; the treatments were brutal, and my stamina is not what it used to be. So a warmer climate is easier on me. I'm looking out right now—there isn't a cloud in the sky, and the temperature is probably 82, 83.

WCT: Being an immigration judge for the DoJ in the age of Trump… What can you say about it?

SP: Never a dull moment! I actually have nothing but very positive things to say. [Note: Patti requested that this be the extent of questioning regarding his current job or thoughts regarding immigration.]

WCT: When I last interviewed you in 2008, I asked if you had any LGBT icons. You listed Ron Sable, Tom Chiola, Nancy Katz and Jon-Henri Damski. Just curious: Should that list remain intact?

SP: I'll always remember [Jon-Henri] wearing that cap. I'd keep that list—but I'd add [presidential candidate] Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Judge Mary Rowland [confirmed to federal district court in Illinois].

WCT: And what do you consider to be the most groundbreaking cases for the LGBT community?

SP: There are several. I'd definitely say United States v. Windsor [which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act] and Obergefell v. Hodges [which established same-sex marriage as a constitutional right], but there are also Bowers v. Hardwick [a controversial case that upheld the constitutionality of a Georgia sodomy law] and Lawrence v. Texas [which held that laws prohibiting private same-sex relations between consenting adults are unconstitutional].

WCT: Looking back over your career, what would you say is your biggest regret—and what are you proudest of?

SP: Well, that's one I didn't see coming! [Pauses] I think my greatest satisfaction is being able to look back and say that I was ( and am ) regarded as an excellent judge and—because of that—in some way, I have been able to contribute to people saying, "If that old Patti can do it, then maybe I can do it!" And maybe this is the functional equivalent of being a role model, I love that I've encouraged people to not be afraid and take the leap. We now have 16 or 17 openly gay judges in Chicago. That's amazing!

As for my biggest regret, I can't say that I have a significant professional one. I once told a therapist, "You know what? If I go to the pearly gates tomorrow, I'd be happy to present myself because I'd have no explaining to do." It's that satisfaction that, in large measure, helped me get through the cancer treatment. I'm a pretty positive person—even with developments like not having salivary glands now, so I have to keep water with me all the time. I told my oncologist, "You fried my salivary glands, but you know what? You cured me of cancer, and I can do that math." He smiled.


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

On 10th anniversary of law, Matthew Shepard's parents Challenge Barr, DOJ 2019-10-17 - Washington DC — On Wednesday, October 16th at the Department of Justice commemorative event to mark the historic 10-year anniversary of the signing ...


Gay News

Congress warned about mental health challenges experienced by Black queer youth 2019-10-17 - WASHINGTON— The National Black Justice Coalition ( NBJC ) yesterday, joined Susan Taylor, former Essence magazine editor-in-chief, and the National CARES Mentoring Movement ...


Gay News

CPS head Johnson found lying down in car 2019-10-17 - Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson called for an internal investigation on himself after officers responding to a call found him lying down in ...


Gay News

Legal titan Pat Logue, and her impact on many LGBT people 2019-10-16 - Politics and social justice causes have been parts of award-winning retired Cook County Circuit Court Associate Justice Pat Logue's life since childhood. Logue, ...


Gay News

Supreme Court analysis: Probabilities in the Title VII rulings 2019-10-16 - U.S. Supreme Court observers are more reluctant than usual to try and predict how the court might come down on the always hot-button ...


Gay News

WORLD Brazilian LGBT figures, 'Kill the Gays' bill, singer Hozier 2019-10-15 - The European Parliament announced the finalists for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought—and, for the first time in its 30 years of ...


Gay News

National Period Day rally Oct. 19 2019-10-15 - A rally to mark National Period Day will take place Saturday, Oct. 19, 12-2 p.m., at Federal Plaza, 219 S. Dearborn St. Organizations ...


Gay News

Kevin Hauswirth, an advocate committed to diversity 2019-10-15 - Since he was a child, Kevin Hauswirth knew he was destined to lead a life of advocacy. Speaking with Windy City Times, he ...


Gay News

Women & Children First targeted by anti-trans vandals 2019-10-14 - The windows at Women & Children First bookstore, 5233 N. Clark St., have been vandalized on multiple occasions with stickers featuring anti-trans messaging, ...


Gay News

New report details network of organizations working against LGBT rights 2019-10-10 - ( Washington, DC ) Today, Accountable for Equality released a new report that outlines the vast and broad network of state and national ...


 



Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.