Virginia House Rejects Judge Because He Is Gay

Tracy Thorne-Begland served his country for 20 years in the Navy. After his discharge, he then rose to become one of the top prosecutors in the city of Richmond, Virginia. He was sponsored for a low-level trial judgeship by a bipartisan mix of state lawmakers, and seemed a shoo-in for the job. And then this happened:

Delegate Bob Marshall said he will seek to remove the name of Richmond prosecutor Tracy Thorne-Begland from a list of proposed District Court judicial appointments.

“I don’t even think it’s proper to put his name forward because of his behavior,” said Marshall, who called Thorne-Begland “a homosexual activist,” in a press release.

Thorne-Begland has been nominated to serve as a judge for Richmond’s General District Court, but, Marshall challenges the nomination on the grounds of the prosecutor’s sexual orientation.

We have a constitution which says marriage is between one man and one woman and if he’s taking an oath, he has to uphold and defend that as a judge,” said Marshall. “If his lifestyle is exactly contrary to that… I don’t see how he could do that,” he said.

Last night, the Virginia House of Delegates fell 18 votes short of the 51 needed to appoint Thorne-Begland to the state bench, effectively killing his opportunity to become a judge. Had he been appointed, Thorne-Begland would have been the only openly gay judge on the Virginia bench.


Moreover, its worth noting that the General District Court is the very lowest court in Virginia, hearing little more than misdemeanors and small dollar civil suits. So it’s unlikely that a gay rights issue could even come before Thorne-Begland if he joined this court.