Virginia’s first openly gay judge sworn in after being rejected last year

Tracy Thorne-Begland

Tracy Thorne-Begland

RICHMOND, Va. — Tracy Thorne-Begland, a former U.S. Navy fighter pilot and Deputy Commonwealth’s attorney for the city of Richmond, was sworn in Friday as Virginia‘s first openly gay judge.

Tracy Thorne-Begland

The ceremony comes nine months after the General Assembly first rejected his nomination when questions about his sexual orientation, political activism and military service derailed his candidacy.

The conservative group The Family Foundation and virulently anti-gay Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William) had argued that Thorne-Begland’s sexual orientation would conflict with his ability to hold up the state’s constitution.

Marshall said that Thorne-Begland should not have been nominated “because of his behavior,” calling him “a homosexual activist.”

One month later, in June 2012, the Circuit Court appointed Thorne-Begland to fill the Court’s vacancy after lawmakers failed to find a replacement.

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In January, the state House of Delagates voted to confirm Thorne-Begland to the court by a margin of 66-28, with one abstention and five members not voting — moments later, he won approval in the Virginia Senate, where 28 senators voted in favor, and 12 Republicans abstained.

“The City of Richmond was pleased to be able to host this historic event at City Hall today. Judge Tracy Thorne-Begland is a demonstrably competent addition to the bench and it is a joy to see this day come,” said Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones, in a statement congratulating the court’s newest judge.

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