Richmond Circuit Court appoints openly gay judge

June 15, 2012

By Laura Vozzella, The Washington Post

RICHMOND — Circuit Court judges have appointed an openly gay prosecutor to the bench just a month after the General Assembly rejected his nomination.

Tracy Thorne-Begland’s appointment to the city District Court judgeship is temporary, lasting only until the next General Assembly session.
The move by the Circuit Court is likely to revive the emotional debate over gay judges that consumed the legislature on the last day of session. It infuriated Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William), who along with the Family Foundation of Virginia helped convince the General Assembly that Thorne-Begland was unfit for the bench.

“I think it’s highly imprudent and arrogant on their part,” said Marshall. “I hope Virginia understands what’s going on here: They’re contesting the authority of the General Assembly here. . . . This is an act of defiance on their part. When appointed officials get in fights with elected officials, they invariably lose.”

The court did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

But in a statement Thursday Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) supported the decision.

“I applaud the circuit court judges for recognizing Mr. Thorne-Begland’s skill, qualifications and competency and putting aside bigotry, prejudice and false excuses,” McEachin said. “I have always had and continue to have the utmost confidence in Mr. Thorne-Begland’s ability to serve our community and I am gratified to see that the circuit court judges share my confidence.”

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