Law - Gay, LGBT | News | Tracy Thorne-Begland

Virginia Legislature Expected to Approve Gay Judge Tracy Thorne-Begland for Bench

Yesterday I posted about Richmond General District Court Judge Tracy Thorne-Begland, who was appointed to the bench by Circuit Court judges last June on an interim basis after he was rejected by Virginia's Republican-controlled House. Thorne-Begland was set to appear before a joint House and Senate panel for an interview to make his appointment permanent.

Thorne-beglandThe panel voted unanimously to send his nomination to the full floor for a vote, the Washington Post reports:

Republicans have largely dropped their opposition.

At a joint meeting of House and Senate judicial panels Monday, several House members who had opposed him last year said they would vote for him now.

“I look forward to voting for you,” said Del. Richard L. Morris (R-Isle of Wight), a Navy veteran and military lawyer who abstained in May.

Most opponents said last year that they objected to Thorne-Begland not because of his sexual orientation but because of his outspokenness on the subject of gay rights.

UPDATE: The Virginia House of Delegates has voted 66-28 to confirm Thorne-Begland, with one abstention.

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  1. I hope he gets through the process. The reasons he was rejected last time (he might be biased in the case of a bar fight between a heterosexual and a homosexual) were not just offensive but ludicrous. The idea seemed to be that a judge who wants superior treatment for heterosexuals would somehow be LESS biased than a judge like Thorne-Begland who believes in equal treatment for all people.

    Posted by: GregV | Jan 15, 2013 12:36:53 PM

  2. Republicans in Virginia like their gays quiet and compliant. Like the blacks.

    Posted by: Randy | Jan 15, 2013 1:01:56 PM

  3. Maybe I'm being paranoid, but it's almost worrisome that suddenly they're supporting him. What did he say to change their minds?

    Posted by: Caliban | Jan 15, 2013 1:09:52 PM

  4. @Caliban, I would hope it was because the legislators from northern VA (where the money is) can read poll results and told those from southern VA that seeming antigay is a really bad idea. If a tiny town in Appalachian Kentucky passes LGBT protections and Maryland passes marriage equality, it makes VA look really backward to antagonize a gay judge.

    But who knows. Who knows if he even spoke to many of them? It's all based on money and connections.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jan 15, 2013 3:06:27 PM

  5. Tracy is one of the greatest heroes in the long fight to end the military ban. Unlike others later who would hide behind fake names, never showing their faces until after repeal, in May of 1992, when he was only 25, Tracy, a highly rated Navy Lt. and “Top Gun,” outed himself on national TV, the same day a similar hero, Navy Petty Officer Keith Meinhold did, and within hours the Navy removed his “call sign” from the side of his plane. This was even before Bill Clinton had secured the Party’s nomination, though some efforts were already underway in Congress to overturn the pre-DADT ban. Like Leonard Matlovich years before, he and Keith were among the very few to ever volunteer to challenge the policy, and Tracy was the first officer. [Zoe Dunning, Justin Elzie, and Joe Zuniga outed themselves the next year.] Tracy and several gay vets participated in the 1993 five-week, 32-city cross-country bus Tour of Duty to drum up public support. He was one of two against the ban out of 17 witnesses that demagogue Sam Nunn allowed to testify before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing at Norfolk Naval Base, a process Tracy aptly characterized as Nunn’s dog and pony show where he was jeered by 1000 sailors and Marines. To wild applause and laughter, infamous racist Senator Strom Thurmond told him, "Your lifestyle is not normal. It's not normal for a man to want to be with a man or a woman with a woman,” asking if he had ever “considered getting help from a medical or psychiatric standpoint.” A court reinstated him after his discharge but, despite his exemplary record and the millions of dollars spent to train him, he was discharged again under DADT, the Supreme Court refusing to hear his appeal, while Keith’s court-ordered reinstatement was not appealed beyond the Circuit level. Tracy and his longtime partner Michael Begland joined their last names, and are rearing twins, Chance and Logan.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Jan 15, 2013 4:35:23 PM

  6. Cossing my fingers. Godspeed Judge Thorne-Begland

    Posted by: grego | Jan 15, 2013 6:53:43 PM

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