So, I thought about blogging this story yesterday about some idiot state legislator in Virginia who did not want to approve a judicial appointment because the nominee is openly gay. I decided that, ultimately, this is only one nut and there’s nuts all throughout state legislatures. Alas, let’s make that nuts all throughout Virginia’s state legislature (or, the Republicans therein, at least). This is just wrong and pathetic on so many levels:
A late-hour lobbying offensive by social conservatives prevailed in the House of Delegates early Tuesday to torpedo bipartisan support for the judicial nomination of an openly gay Richmond prosecutor.
After a lengthy discussion, the GOP-controlled House of Delegates defeated the nomination of Tracy Thorne-Begland, Richmond’s chief deputy commonwealth’s attorney. He would have been the first openly gay judge elected in Virginia.
Thorne-Begland received 33 votes, and 31 delegates voted against him. He needed a majority of the 100-member House — 51 votes — to secure the judgeship…
Thorne-Begland’s nomination for a judgeship on the General District Court in Richmond, where he has been a prosecutor for 12 years, had been approved by courts committees in the House and Senate.
But his nomination came under fire late last week, as the Family Foundation and Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William, stoked fears that the 45-year-old attorney would allow his sexual orientation to influence his judicial decisions.
Republicans cast the 31 votes against Thorne-Begland. Ten Republican delegates abstained and 26 delegates, including a handful of Democrats, did not vote. Eight Republicans voted for Thorne-Begland…
“The rejection of Mr. Thorne-Begland shows that discrimination based on sexual orientation is alive and well in Virginia,” Del. Mark D. Sickles, D-Fairfax, said in a statement after the vote in the House of Delegates. “And, it shows that legislators are more concerned about the Family Foundation scorecard than Richmond’s District Court.”
Thorne-Begland was the only one of more than three dozen judicial nominees — including 10 others from the Richmond region — who was not elected to a judgeship following a marathon legislative session dominated by review of amendments to the two-year state budget proposed by Gov. Bob McDonnell.
The defeat of the nomination came in spite of statements of support for Thorne-Begland from Republicans and Democrats alike.
“It is without question that he is extremely qualified,” said Del. G. Manoli Loupassi, R-Richmond, a former Richmond prosecutor who assured colleagues that Thorne-Begland would handle his role as a judge in a “dignified way and a correct way.”
Earlier Monday, Gov. Bob McDonnell told reporters that judicial qualifications, not sexual orientation, should determine who serves in Virginia’s judiciary.
“All I can tell you is what I’ve always said about judges, and that is that these ought to be merit-based selections solely based on a person’s skill, ability, fairness, judicial temperament, ” the governor said at an unrelated event.
Good for McDonnell who’s had his share of unseemly positions in the past. Anyway, Thorne-Begland really has an interesting backstory, too:
Thorne-Begland, a decorated officer and fighter pilot – came out as a gay Naval officer 20 years ago to challenge the military’s now-defunct “don’t ask don’t tell” policy. His announcement resulted in his honorable discharge from the Navy. Between 2002 and 2006, he also served on the board of Equality Virginia, a nonprofit gay rights group…
A number of conservative House Republicans with military backgrounds questioned Thorne-Begland’s decision to speak publicly about his sexual orientation while he was in the military and subject to its code of conduct.
“For me it’s not not about fear and bigotry and ignorance and so forth,” said Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Prince William. ”It is very definitely about duty.”
Riiiiiiiight. No bigotry or ignorance to see here. Move along. Again, it’s one thing when you get one or two fringe lawmakers, but this was a decision of the majority of the VA House of Delegates. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2012 Republican party.