Virginia’s GOP-controlled House of Delegates did not reject a judicial nominee because was gay. Oh no, no, no. The voted him down because he’s displayed “a pattern of behavior that is just notorious for homosexual advocacy,” reports The New York Times.
Richmond prosecutor Tracy Thorne-Begland lost his bid for the bench in the wee hours Tuesday morning after failing to garner the 51 votes needed in the 100-member House. (The count was 33 in support to 31 against, with 10 abstainees).
Though Thorne-Begland had broad support, Republican legislators and members of the Family Foundation lobbied heavily against him before the vote, taken at 1am. They argued that his past—including being a former board member of Equality Virginia—suggested he would try to push an activist agenda if sworn in.
“The only conclusions I can come to is that he was not supported because he was gay,” said Delegate Charniele Herring, a Democrat who supported the nomination.
A former naval officer and fighter pilot, Thorne-Begland came out on Nightline decades ago during a segment on gays in the military. He was discharged twice—once after the show aired (but was reinstated), and again when Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was enacted. Delegate Bob Marshall (R-Prince William County) said the fact that he lied on his military application was “highly problematic.”
Thorne-Begland’s current boss, Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael N. Herring, called the defeat an “embarassment.”
“It’s hard to think about what happened in the General Assembly and not conclude that it’s a form of bigotry,” he said at a press conference yesterday. Republican Governor Bob McDonnell released a statement saying judgeships “must be considered based solely on their merit, record, aptitude and skill.”
Oh, we don’t know ’bout that. You can never be too careful about them there activist judges: We just saw one skitter under the house!
Photo: Equality Virginia