Thorne-Begland’s confirmation doesn’t mean gay rights support

Posted at 12:21 AM, Jan 16, 2013

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--Before wrapping up for the day, state lawmakers wrote another page for the history books by confirming Tracy Thorne-Begland as the state's first openly gay judge.

This confirmation for the former Richmond prosecutor comes after last May’s rejection by the GOP-controlled House. Some Republicans claimed they are now confident Thorne-Begland won't be an activist on the bench.

He received twice as many votes in favor of the confirmation this year.

Democratic delegate Jennifer McClellan, who supported Thorne-Begland during both votes, told CBS 6 she found it fascinating that he was confirmed on what would have been Dr. Martin Luther King’s 84th birthday.

“Tracy was judged by the contents of his character,” said McClellan. 

The delegate says that, unfortunately, Thorne-Begland's appointment doesn't mean the house will pass legislation pertaining to equality for gays and lesbians.

A small house subcommittee has already killed a proposal that would repeal the state's ban on same-sex marriage. This means, the issue won’t even be up for discussion.

Republican delegate, Bob Marshall said Thorne-Begland’s confirmation was a bad move all around.

“Politics 101: don’t annoy your base,” said Marshall.  He said Republicans who supported Thorne-Begland will leave constituents thinking they're in support of homosexuality, since issues like gay-marriage won't make their way to the house floor for a public vote and chance to prove otherwise.

“They're just going to show everyone how weak they are. It's one thing politicians usually have a good nose for and that's weakness. When you're afraid to deal with something, you're weak,” said Marshall.

The House of Delegates can’t avoid the issue of gay rights completely. There are several bills in the Senate that have a chance of making their way over to the house for a vote.