Twice as many votes this year for first openly gay Va. judge

Posted at 12:54 PM, Jan 15, 2013

 RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - The Virginia House of Delegates voted to approve Tracy Thorne-Begland to be a permanent judge on the Richmond General District court Tuesday afternoon.

The final vote was 66 - 28 in favor of Begland in the House. In the Senate 28 - 0 was the final total, with 12 Senators not voting.

The General Assembly rejected Thorne-Begland's nomination last year.

On Monday, Thorne-Begland appeared before lawmakers to answer questions. The 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,” Thorne-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,” Thorne-Begland said.

Bill Harrison of the Richmond Gay Community Foundation told CBS 6 that today was a historic day.

"I sit hear and I read the names of the legislators, I'm so proud they did the right thing," Harrison said.

Judge Tracy Thorne Begland was appointed to a judgeship on a interim basis in June.

Since he was confirmed, his term will last six years.