Virginia’s First Out Gay Judge Faces Interview Before Legislature


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, will face Senate and House committees again today, the AP reports:

Thorne-Begland’s appointment expires next month unless the legislature makes it permanent. Democrats applauded the circuit court’s action, but GOP leaders criticized the court for appointing Thorne-Begland over their objections. They said the law allowing circuit courts to fill vacancies when the legislature is not in session was not intended as an appeals process for rejected candidates. Republicans are sponsoring legislation to prohibit such appointments.

Conservative Republican Delegate Bob Marshall told WTVR in June that the decision puts the judges at odds with lawmakers who appointed them and that to put Thorne-Begland, a former Air Force pilot who spoke out against 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' before its repeal, was a "disgrace."

“To place someone on the board like that who, when he was offered an opportunity to rebut a presumption that he wasn’t committing a felony, under the uniform code of military justice, declined to do so, is a disgrace," said Marshall.