Va. House Rejects Gay Prosecutor’s Judical Nominee
The Virginia General Assembly, which is predominantly ruled by Republicans, recently blocked the judicial nomination of an openly gay prosecutor, the Washington Times reported.
Politicians from the House of Delegates argued about the fate of Richmond Deputy Commonwealth Attorney Tracy Thorne-Begland until the early morning. But the House of Delegates blocked Thorne-Begland's nomination for General District Court judgeship by a vote of 33-31 with 10 abstentions. He needed the majority vote of members elected in both the House and Senate to get the job.
Thorne-Begland is openly gay and has adopted twins with his partner. He was honorably discharged from the Navy and publicly came out of the closet nearly 20-years-ago to protest the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" act, which was repealed last year.
Delegate Robert G. Marshall (R), who strongly campaigned against Thorne-Begland, is "one of the most socially conservatives" of the General Assembly, the article notes. Marshall has even called the prosecutor "an aggressive activist for the pro-homosexual agenda."
"Can this candidate swear the required oath to support our state's constitution if he has already indicated by his past actions that he does not support that section of our Constitution barring same-sex legal relationships?" Marshall asked. "While our judges and judicial candidates certainly have a right to free speech, they do not have the right to disregard the Virginia Constitution."
In 2006, Marshall co-sponsored a constitutional amendment that banned gay marriage in the state. Voters later approved the anti-gay marriage measure, which still stands today -- prohibiting same-sex couples from getting married.
Delegate G.M. Manoli Loupassi (R), however, supported Thorne-Begland for the position and argued against Marshall's views.
"He's eminently qualified," he said. "There are 12 years he's been prosecuting very serious crimes." She also said that Thorne-Begland would not be involved with cases where his sexual orientation would come into play.
Delegate Jennifer L. McLellan (D), also backed Thorne-Begland's nomination.
"Questions have been raised about his character, his record, his qualifications," she said. "Yet there are some who say he's not qualified simply because he told the truth about who he was, which many believe was the right thing to do."
If Thorne-Begland had been nominated, he would have been the first openly gay judge elected in Virginia.
"I would like to thank my sponsors, Senator Donald McEachin, and Delegates Jennifer McClellan and Manoli Loupassi and my family for their support," Thorne-Begland said in a statement.
In addition to outlawing marriage equality in Virginia, last summer Marshall took issue when the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank flew the rainbow flag outside its building, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. The politician said, flying the flag was "a serious deficiency of judgment by your organization, one not limited to social issues."
"What does flying the homosexual flag, or any other similar display, have to do with your central banking mission under the Federal Reserve Act passed by Congress?" he wrote.
Virginia defines marriage between one man and one woman and does not have any discrimination or hate laws that protect the LGBT community.