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VA House Rejects Gay Lawyer For Bench Because He Might Become Activist Judge

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

On:           May 16, 2012
Tagged: , , , , ,
    • Cam

      They do not want gays to have jobs, or to be able to support themselves if they are out of the closet. Simple as that.

      May 16, 2012 at 6:10 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JP

      This is just awful. Discrimation on employment based on his sexual orientation. Only gay folks got the worst hit. This is discrimimation in broad daylight.

      May 16, 2012 at 6:17 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chuck

      Ok GOProuders, we are all waiting for you to explain again how the Republican party is not totally anti-gay.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:59 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Daniel P

      Virginia continues its slide to emulate Mississippi…so embarrassing for them.

      May 16, 2012 at 8:28 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Spike

      The republican christian Taliban strikes again. They won’t be happy until we are all safely sent off to the camps.

      May 16, 2012 at 8:39 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Daez

      @Cam: Oh please, any decent lawyer is taking a pay cut to become a judge in the vast majority of cases. I really do not feel that sorry for him on the job front.

      Of course he would have been an activist judge. We stopped considering judges on the basis of their merit when we stopped putting judges up for open election. Appointing judges just creates a whole slew of political issues on both sides of the aisle.

      May 16, 2012 at 9:05 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam

      @Daez: said….”@Cam: Oh please, any decent lawyer is taking a pay cut to become a judge in the vast majority of cases. I really do not feel that sorry for him on the job front.”

      So you actually said that you do not feel sorry for somebody who was denied a job solely because he was gay.

      So lets see…..if a woman was going to be a CEO, but they decided to not hire her because she was a woman, that would also be ok with you if she was wealthy so the job wouldn’t hurt her bottom line?

      Sorry, I wasn’t aware that civil rights and job discrimination were only based on salary.

      May 16, 2012 at 9:50 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Poe Man's Blues

      @Daez: Dude, you are absolutely right. I was a court clerk for 3 years in Fairfax, and can tell you first-hand that there are indeed activist judges whose sole purpose is to dictate their politics from the bench. Which is why I fully support judges elected by the people and not appointed by political committees. A judge with an agenda—any agenda—is a very, very dangerous thing.

      May 16, 2012 at 11:11 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • herri

      Isn’t that illegal??

      May 16, 2012 at 11:46 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kieran

      This is the way they say “thank you” to a former US Naval officer and Fighter pilot?

      It just goes to show what a big pile of meaningless bullshit that “Thank you for your Service” cliche really is. The gay men and women in our US Armed Services who are fighting to provide “freedom, liberty, and democracy” to people in places like Iraq and Afghanistan don’t even have those basic rights here in the USA simply because of the sexual orientation they were born with.

      May 16, 2012 at 11:48 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Andy

      “There don’t be no ain’t LGBT discrimination in the United States.”

      May 16, 2012 at 1:13 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam

      @Poe Man’s Blues: said…

      “I was a court clerk for 3 years in Fairfax, and can tell you first-hand that there are indeed activist judges whose sole purpose is to dictate their politics from the bench. Which is why I fully support judges elected by the people and not appointed by political committees. A judge with an agenda—any agenda—is a very, very dangerous thing.”

      That is the very reason that the founders set up the judicial branch to not have elected judges subject to the whim of the voters. i.e. Brown v. Board of Education and other civil rights cases would not have had similar results if judges had to constantly run for election.

      Weird that somebody who was a clerk in a jurisdiction so close to DC would be ignorant of that fact.

      May 16, 2012 at 2:55 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Michael Bedwell

      Tracy, whom I’m honored to know, is 45. Forty-five years ago it took the United States Supreme Court to overturn Virginia’s law that had first put black Mildred Loving and her white husband Richard in jail, then gave them the choice of leaving the state or serve a year-long sentence simply because they loved each other. The judge hissed, “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.” Now Tracy’s love for his husband Michael, and his having outed himself on “Nightline” 20 years ago [even before Bill Clinton had the party’s nomination] to fight the ban that would prevent him from serving his country as an openly gay Navy officer and Top Gun, has resulted in Virginia’s loathsomely proud bigots winning again. “The new ‘niggers’ are gays.” – Bayard Rustin, 1986.

      BIO: In May of 1992, when he was only 25, Tracy Thorne was already a highly rated Navy Lt. and “Top Gun” when he stood next to the jet he’d flown so often and realized it was probably the last time. “I knew I was not going to fly again”—for six days later he outed himself on national TV to fight the ban on gay service members—and within hours the Navy removed his “call sign” from the side of the plane. Like Leonard Matlovich years before, he was one of the few to ever volunteer to challenge the policy, and the first officer. Though Gov. Bill Clinton had yet to secure the Party’s presidential nomination, efforts were already underway in Congress to overturn the ban, and Tracy and Navy Petty Officer Keith Meinhold came forward on the same day. The next spring, he was one of several gay vets on the 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 pre-DADT 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. Since marrying his longtime partner Michael Begland, both now share the last name Thorne-Begland, and are rearing twins, Chance and Logan.

      *** http://youtu.be/9PMEXfSqm5k

      May 16, 2012 at 3:47 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Patsy Stoned

      No, herri, in fact it is quite legal in Virginia to fire anyone based on his or her sexual orientation. Bob McDonnell made sure of that when he rescinded a law protecting gays in employment. He can claim discrimination is not “acceptable” but he made it very easy to do just that, as all anti-gay jerks tend to do. Virginia has been on a long backslide into an absolutist, Theocratic hate state.

      Hopefully Thorne-Begland takes his talents out of backwater Virginia and brings them to the civilized world. No need to remain in the Iran of the US now.

      May 16, 2012 at 11:25 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • 1equalityUSA

      So, would they have rejected a judge that had an anti-gay stance?

      May 17, 2012 at 8:29 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Good grief

      Fuck the South. How about the rest of us secede?

      May 17, 2012 at 1:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • RG

      Oh shit, the judge-designate was “liberal.” Gay or anything else was an afterthought with the Republican boobs who voted him down. This activist judge crap comes down to GOP blowhards bitching when the judge, regardless of affiliation, vote against one of their sacred elephants. The man they voted down would have made a great judge.

      May 31, 2012 at 9:25 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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