Virginia Appoints First Openly Gay Judge

Friday, 15 Jun 2012 12:49 PM

By Greg McDonald

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A Richmond prosecutor has become the first openly gay judge in Virginia following his appointment Thursday over the objections of the Republican-controlled state legislature.

Tracy Thorne-Begland was appointed to the General District Court bench by a panel of Richmond Circuit Court judges, who made the “bold move,” according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, knowing the appointment “could face political opposition” again when it comes up for review in the legislature next year.”

“I am humbled by the circuit court’s decision,” said Thorne-Begland, Richmond's chief deputy commonwealth's attorney.

"I look forward to serving the citizens of the city of Richmond as a jurist and, over the coming months, I hope that my service provides comfort to all Virginians that I remain committed to the faithful application of the laws and constitutions of Virginia and the United States of America.”

Thorne-Begland had been rejected by the GOP-controlled legislature just last month, even though he had bipartisan support from both sides of the aisle. But some Republicans chose not to vote or abstained, denying the necessary 51 votes needed for confirmation.

Republican Gov. Bob McDonnel supported the appointment from the beginning and congratulated him on Thursday in a statement, saying he was “well-qualified to serve on the bench.”

Opponents of the appointment, however, said they planned to monitor his performance carefully.

“As a member of the court, he now has the responsibility to uphold the Constitution, not apply his own personal, political agenda or viewpoint,” said Victoria Cobb, president of The Family Foundation. “Because of our efforts, he will be watched very closely in the coming years, particularly if he is elevated to any higher court in the future.”

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