First reported 1/18/2010 2:33 p.m.

At the same time a local conservative Web site is ripping Beye Elementary School for acceptance of homosexuality, a Beye mom is one step closer to becoming the first openly gay person appointed to the federal judiciary.

A Jan. 12 article in the National Law Journal quotes Chief Judge James Holderman saying that Mary M. Rowland is one of three judicial candidates on President Barack Obama’s short list, and that Rowland is being screened by the American Bar Association.

In late August, Rowland was one of seven people nominated by Sen. Dick Durbin to fill three vacancies on the Northern Illinois District Court. Rowland, 48, and her partner have two children at Beye and are active members of the school community.

Neither the American Bar Association nor the White House would comment on details in the National Law Journal article. Monday morning, Rowland’s only comment on the article was a clarification.

“I have not been nominated,” she told Wednesday Journal.

If she passes through the current vetting process, Rowland will face confirmation hearings before the Senate judiciary committee. Durbin, her sponsor, is one of 12 Democrats who sit on the 19-member committee, which is chaired by Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy.

Before entering private practice, Ms. Rowland was a staff attorney with the Federal Defender Program for the Northern District of Illinois, where she tried several federal criminal jury trials and argued cases before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

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