Saturday, March 02, 2013

Virginia’s First Openly Gay Judge Sworn In

In a major defeat for The Family Foundation, a viciously anti-gay affiliate of Focus on the Family and the hate group FRC, the 2013 session of the Virginia General Assembly confirmed Tracy Thorne-Begland as a judge on the Richmond General District Court.  The Family Foundation rolled out all of its typical forms of character assassination propaganda and anti-gay lies, yet enough Republicans decided to vote for Thorne-Begland to confirm him apparently in part to avoid Virginia's worldwide media crucifixion.  Yesterday, Thorne-Begland was sworn in.  WTVR TV-6 has details.  Here are highlights:

Tracy Thorne-Begland is now a General District Court Judge and will hold court in Richmond.
The historic end to a long and controversial journey was felt beyond the four walls of Richmond’s City Hall.

The road leading to the landmark day was not always been a smooth one. Last May, the House of Delegates voted against Thorne-Begland’s nomination after some voiced concern over possible activism from the bench. Delegate Bob Marshall tried to have Thorne-Begland’s named removed from a list of proposed District Court judicial appointments lasy year.  “I don’t even think it’s proper to put his name forward because of his behavior,” said Marshall, who called Thorne-Begland “a homosexual activist,” in a press release.

But almost one month after lawmakers voted against Thorne-Begland serving as a General District Court judge in 2012, the Richmond Circuit Court appointed him to serve an interim position last June.

However, he met with lawmakers to answer questions again this January. Those questions did not surround his sexual orientation, but rather his service in the Navy and concerns by lawmakers over “activism.”  “Some say you lied on your application to be in the military because it asks if you are gay,” St. Delegate David B. Albo, Chair of the Courts and Justice Committee, asked Thorne-Begland.  “In 1988 and 1989 when I was going through the process of joining the military I didn’t know I was gay,” Thorne-Begland said.

Thorne-Begland said the history-making moment would not be possible without the help of his sponsor in the House of Delegates, Manoli Loupassi R-Richmond.  “So the fact that his sexual orientation has nothing to do with it,” Loupassi said. “If you’re black or Latino or whatever. It doesn’t matter. Can you do the job? Are you qualified for the job? If you’re qualified and you can do the job then you’ll you should be able to get the job, too.”

Richmond’s newest judge thanked his partner of 20 years and two children for their support amid applause.
Kudos to Tracy and all of those who fought hard to win this confirmation.   As for Del. Bob Marshall, he continues to be an embarrassment to  Virginia and might better consider moving to Iran so that he can experience a theocratic government first hand.

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