Openly gay judge up for GA vote

Posted at 7:06 PM, Jan 14, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-15 06:26:48-05

RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) --  The confirmation of Atty. Tracy Thorne-Begland has been a controversial subject in Richmond for more than a year. 

Begland, a former Richmond prosecutor, would be the first openly-gay judge confirmed by the legislature.

He was up for a permanent judge position in 2012, but the General Assembly failed to confirm him. He was given a temporary judge position in Richmond in June 2012. 

Monday he returned to the General Assembly seeking confirmation for a permanent judgeship in Virginia's 13th District.

Questions did not surround his sexual orientation, but rather his service in the Navy and concerns by lawmakers over "activism."

"Some say you lied on your application to be in the military because it asks if you are gay," St. Delegate David B. Albo, Chair of the Courts and Justice Committee, asked Thorne-Begland.

"In 1988 and 1989 when I was going through the process of joining the military I didn't know I was gay," Begland said.

Others raised concerns over his past activist positions and whether or not that would play a rule when he tried cases.

"I'm not going to lie and say I don't one day want the opportunity to marry my partner, but that is not my rule as a judge," Begland said.

State Senators promised swift approval in the Senate this week but the House, where the nomination is expected to take to the floor Tuesday, is a different story.

Delegate Bob Marshall (R-Manassas) still has objections.

"I don't see what has changed from last year - when you go into a courtroom you don't want someone who is out on the picket lines," Del. Marshall said.