RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The House of Delegates, voting in Tuesday’s early morning hours, blocked an openly gay Richmond prosecutor from appointment to a General District Court judgeship in the city.
A minimum of 51 votes in the 100-member House is required for election.
Thorne-Begland, a former Navy pilot who was honorably discharged after publicly disclosing his sexual orientation, was one of only two candidates among scores of judicial nominees not to be approved during a ’round-the-clock marathon that lingered from 1 p.m. Monday to 2 a.m. Tuesday.
Among Thorne-Begland’s fiercest critics was Del. Robert G. Marshall, an outspokenly anti-gay Republican from Prince William who is among four candidates seeking the GOP’s U.S. Senate nomination in next month’s primary.
Marshall said he opposed Thorne-Begland on grounds that he denied his true sexual orientation in a statement those entering the armed forces at the time were forced to sign in the era before President Bill Clinton instituted the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy toward gays in the military.
“That statement asked the question as to personal sexual behavior: Are you a homosexual,” Marshall said. “To get into the military, Mr. Tracy Thorne-Begland had to sign a statement, ‘No, I am not.’”
Later, Marshall said he also considered Thorne-Begland unfit for the bench because being openly gay clashes with his duty to uphold the Virginia Constitution, which includes an amendment that defines marriage solely as a monogamous union between a man and a woman.