Tracy Thorne-Begland has been appointed
to the Richmond Circuit Court after Virginia lawmakers rejected his
nomination, some say because he's openly gay.
Judges can fill vacancies on the bench,
but such appointments must be approved by lawmakers when they
Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell, a
Republican, praised the move which is expected to revive the
controversy surrounding Thorne-Begland's nomination.
“The Governor believes Mr.
Thorne-Begland is well-qualified to serve on the bench,” Tucker
Martin, McDonnell's spokesman, said in an e-mail to The
Washington Post. “He congratulates him on the
McDonnell, however, has previously voiced
his opposition to openly gay judges. In 2003, McDonnell led a
successful effort to oust a lesbian Circuit Court judge. At the
time, then-Delegate McDonnell suggested that gay people are criminals
because they were violating the state's anti-sodomy statute.
The appointment infuriated Delegate
Robert G. Marshall, a Republican who led the charge against
“I think it's highly imprudent and
arrogant on their part,” he told the paper. “I hope Virginia
understands what's going on here: They're contesting the authority of
the General Assembly. … This is an act of defiance on their part.
When appointed officials get in fights with elected officials, they
on cabler CNN, Marshall insisted that “sodomy is not a civil
right” in the course of explaining his opposition to the gay
Thorne-Begland came out publicly as a
gay Naval officer 20 years ago and was discharged under the
military's now-defunct policy barring open gay service.
His nomination comes on the same day
Republican Delegate Richard L. Morris announced he had dropped his
opposition to Thorne-Begland.
Only 33 delegates in May supported
Thorne-Begland's nomination. He needs 51 votes in the House to keep