After more than a year of GOP obstruction, today the Virginia House elected openly gay Judge Tracy Thorne-Begland, a formal naval aviator dismissed under DADT, to a six-year term on the Richmond District state bench.
The interim Manchester General District Court judge — a respected former Richmond prosecutor and decorated Naval aviator who in 1992 challenged the military’s now defunct “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy prohibiting gays from serving in the armed forces — was approved in the GOP-dominated chamber by a vote of 66-28, with one abstention. The roll call vote was taken without floor speeches or debate, and clears the way for Thorne-Begland’s election to a full six-year term. On Monday leadership in the Virginia Senate all but guaranteed Thorne-Begland would be approved by the 40-member chamber. A majority of members in each chamber of the General Assembly must agree to elect a judge to the bench in Virginia.
Upon his expected confirmation, Thorne-Begland will become Virginia’s first openly gay judge. Last year his candidacy was thwarted by local GOP loon Delegate Bob Marshall, who claimed that Thorne-Begland’s “lifestyle” was contrary to the Virginia state constitution, whatever that means.
RELATED: This morning Virgina hate group leader Eugene Delgaudio issued an “emergency alert” to state legislators, demanding that they vote against Thorne-Begland’s appointment. A snippet:
My friend, this is simply an outrage. Judges are called upon to be impartial upholders of the law. How can Mr. Thorne-Begland be trusted to safeguard the law, when he claims to have a “husband” in violation of Virginia’s Marriage Law? Thorne-Begland will use the first case he can to start creating pro-homosexual precedence and changes to the law. Joe, I need your help right now to stop him. Republicans in the Virginia House seem to think that family values no longer matter in Virginia. And so they are doing what they can to quietly appease the Homosexual Lobby. It’s up to you and me to show them the pro-Family Movement is not dead.
UPDATE: Equality Virginia reacts.
This is a big step forward after last year’s actions made embarrassing national headlines. Equality Virginia is pleased that the House of Delegates could see that Thorne-Begland is a qualified candidate with integrity and a long history of public service. Thorne-Begland has served his country and his city with honor and unquestioned competence first as a Navy pilot and then as a prosecutor. We’re glad the House of Delegates took a second look at his candidacy and this time the decision was based on his qualifications and not on who he is or who he loves. While Thorne-Begland has been given another opportunity, without employment protections, most Virginians do not get a second chance at their jobs after being fired or not hired because of their sexual orientation.