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House confirms openly gay judge

RICHMOND – The Virginia House of Delegates voted 66-28 today to confirm the permanent appointment of Tracy Thorne-Begland as a judge of Richmond’s Manchester General District Court. He is the first openly gay judge to serve in Virginia.

The House had blocked Thorne-Begland’s nomination last spring. Republican legislators previously argued against his appointment, saying his sexual orientation might affect his judicial decisions.

Social conservatives also had expressed concerns that Thorne-Begland, a former Navy pilot, had violated military oath under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule prohibiting gay service members from disclosing their sexual orientation.

Last year, Thorne-Begland fell 18 votes short in the House of the 51 votes needed for confirmation.

This time around, the tables have turned. Many Republicans who last year abstained from voting on Thorne-Begland’s appointment, such as Delegate Todd Gilbert of Shenandoah, changed their minds and supported his appointment.

Delegate Manoli Loupassi, R-Richmond, sponsored Thorne-Begland’s nomination to the bench last year and today. He said the judge is qualified and has done a very good job serving the commonwealth.

Michael Hammer, a Virginia Beach lawyer who is active in advocating for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, said today’s vote was both uplifting and unexpected.

“I am very pleased with the results, but I am also somewhat surprised that the Republicans in the House were willing to defy the Family Foundation,” Hammer said. The foundation is a Christian-based organization in Virginia that raised the issue of Thorne-Begland’s sexual orientation during last year’s nomination.

“It tends to be that in Virginia, if you’re a Republican, you typically do what the Family Foundation wants or [they] have you challenged in a primary. But fortunately, we won 66 votes in the House,” Hammer added.

Thorne-Begland, who had received a temporary appointment to the judgeship in June, will serve a full six-year term on the Richmond General District Court bench as a result of today’s vote.


“Great news.  Glad we are starting to value people for who they are and what they bring to the table.  Unfortunately all of the conservatives are worried they will be turned.”

Your last sentence contradicted your first.

As if the Gallup poll has any relevance or credibility these days. . .
“The times they are a-changin.”

fed up dude is double speak for ed, ain’t getting any

Broke and oath is bigot double speak for I just hate gays and don’t want him on the bench.

TroyMcClure, Jesus didn’t “discriminate” against anyone.  He ate and socialized with prostitutes, thieves, adulterers, etc…  But he didn’t tell them to “keep on prostituting, stealing, fornicating, etc…”  So he would probably say to Mr. Thorne-Begland, “Go and sin no more.”  Just as he would say to ALL of us.  Mr. Thorne-Begland may make a fine judge.  But there’s no victory in congratulating a man for making his sins public.

Troy be careful of stones that you throw. You may not like my stance on this but you don’t get to be a keyboard kommando and insult with impunity. Feel free to go after the residents in our government while you applaud this choice that they made.It was the rule at the time and he broke it whats to say he will uphold the laws he does not agree with, Nothing.He announced on nightline yet he does not believe his sexual choice would be a issue? The Military discharged Tracy Thorne-Begland for violating its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. This means he broke the civil law if that’s not the case then I will withdraw my complaint.

Loudounmom:  Can you point us to that Gallop poll?  The only polls I can find are not of military personnel but rather of non-military adults suggesting a percentage of how many THEY think are gay/lesbian.

Ah, these guys are never “anti-gay”.  They are always “defending marriage” or “just following the Bible”.  Now it is about “breaking an oath”. 

Want to talk about integrity?  Admit what you really are. 

The comparison to slavery is entirely valid.  Both examples are a human being breaking an unjust law or “oath” that is rooted in bigotry and persecution.

Enuf is right.  Want to complain about breaking an oath?  Everyone on Capitol Hill is supposed to be “upholding and defending the Constitution”.  There is a good one.

Come on… so you’re saying if he was never in the military (and therefore no oath) you would be totally ok with his appointment? I don’t buy that. At least be honest.
Also, he was a former Navy Pilot… did the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy actually preclude military personnel from disclosing their sexuality, even after they’ve left the service. I honestly don’t know. But if not, then the oath shouldn’t make a difference (assuming he disclosed after he left the military, also not sure about that).

No it’s only irrevelant to you and your arguement.Begland is a former fighter pilot and Navy officer who was discharged from the armed forces because of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which barred openly gay individuals from serving.

What oath, oranges? This claim was thoroughly debunked last year, after a dishonorable attack on Mr. Thorne-Begland by the so-called “family foundation” types was launched at 1:00 am during an otherwise routine session when many of the legislators had already returned to their home districts. Not only did those behind the attack lie to their colleagues, they then used parliamentary procedure to block any opportunity to rebut those lies. Yesterday’s vote was an opportunity for those members who had been initially misled by their deceitful colleagues to correct their error from last year’s session.

The false claim made by those colleagues was that Mr. Thorne-Begland had violated military rules prohibiting political activity by publicly coming out and by advocating for reform of anti-gay policies. In fact, the military prohibition on political activities refers explictly to *partisan* activities. Mr. Thorne-Begland’s testimony was in no way partisan, nor was he in uniform when he disclosed his orientation on Nightline. Furthermore, as noted later by Republican Delegate Richard Morris, his appearance at a Congressional hearing, along with 17 other servicemembers in uniform, was *at the order of his superiors.*

Not only were the claims of these supposed “conservatives” factually false, they revealed an absurdly un-American character and set of values. Republican activist and attorney Brian Schoeneman nailed this perfectly at the time:

“The argument that [Delegate Bob] Marshall makes that questions Thorne-Begland’s integrity and claims he couldn’t take the oath to support the Virginia Constitution is, quite frankly, disgusting. Not only has Thorne-Begland already taken that oath as an attorney and in his official capacity as a deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney, there is nothing in his background to indicate he has ever violated it. Advocacy against laws one disagrees with isn’t violating an oath – it’s something inherently American and something we Republicans have long valued…”

And exposed the sheer hypocrisy, given that other nominees had engaged in outspoken advocacy on other matters, from the Second Amendment to labor rights:

“..The fact that Thorne-Begland was discharged from the Navy for being gay is irrelevant. He believed that his rights were being trampled upon and spoke up, going to court to defend them. There is nothing wrong with that. This is the exact same behavior we Republicans praised when Dick Heller and the other second amendment activists filed suit to overturn DC’s unconstitutional gun laws. We praise activism in defense of rights, especially where someone gives up so much for the fight. In the Heller case, Dick Heller didn’t have to get arrested or lose his job – he simply had to apply for a permit and be denied.”

Any members who did *not* correct their vote from last year, after having been given the opportunity to save face - after all, they were deliberately misled - have truly shown themselves to be either cowards or hopeless ideologues who will be left behind as the rest of us move forward in creating a more perfect union. Congratulations to Mr. Thorne-Begland, who has conducted himself with tremendous grace and integrity throughout this sorry episode.

Any chance this article can be updated to reflect how our local representatives voted?

He “broke the oath”...dear LORD, what is wrong with you people?  He served his country, honorably.  If we excluded all gays from the military, about 1/4 of your military would be exiled…Seriously.  Yes.  1/4.  Given in the last Gallup poll 21% of respondents identified as homosexual.  And that is just those who admitted it.  Get over your homophobia. Your insecurities and hatred are getting old.

Maybe now the judges can start wearing robes with a little more style & color instead of those drab black things.

It is 2013 not 1850 so I don’t buy your comparison of slaves to gays. You don’t scare me and neither do gays but a man who breaks a oath is basically a liar.  The problem is that I am against people who are not as good as their solemn pledge and has nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus. Sexual, race and religious baiting’s have nothing to do with this.

LOL oranges869…..before we go after this guy maybe we should go after all the members of congress or our state house who break their oath of office (far more important than a stupid rule trying to ignore the existence of gay folk).  You crack me up…

Get over it.  Saying he “broke an oath” is like saying a runaway slave “broke the law”.  You can stop being afraid of the gay guys now.  It is 2013.  Or would discriminating against a group of people be what Jesus would do?

Great news.  Glad we are starting to value people for who they are and what they bring to the table. 

Unfortunately all of the conservatives are worried they will be turned.

This just goes to show how many idiots we have in the House. He broke a oath that should disqualifies anyone be they black, white, straight or gay. More political correctness and pandering to the electorate for the next election by the delegates.

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