weather icon 85° Mostly Cloudy
The Latest:

Local Lawmakers Weigh in on Va. Gay Judge Vote

by ARLnow.com | May 16, 2012 at 12:02 pm | 3,830 views | 140 Comments

Local state lawmakers are speaking out against a vote by the Virginia House of Delegates to deny a General District Court judgeship to an openly gay prosecutor.

Richmond prosecutor Tracy Thorne-Begland, a former Navy fighter pilot whose judicial nomination was supported by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), failed to receive the 51 votes necessary in the 100-member House of Delegates. Del. Bob Marshall (R), who led the charge against Thorne-Begland’s nomination, cited his public opposition to the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy 20 years ago, while still in the Navy, and his expressed support for same-sex marriage.

Thorne-Begland is “an aggressive activist for the pro-homosexual agenda,” Marshall said in a press release. “Can this candidate swear the required oath to support our state’ constitution if he has already indicated by his past actions that he does not support that section of our constitution barring same-sex legal relationships?”

State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D), the first openly gay member of the Virginia General Assembly, argued that Thorne-Begland was rejected solely on the basis of being openly gay. He also condemned the state Senate leadership for dodging a vote on the nomination.

“The debate in the House of Delegates was homophobic and embarrassing, and showed a disrespect to a chief deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney and decorated veteran who was honorably discharged,” Ebbin told the Washington Post. “It’s also offensive that the Senate Republican leadership wouldn’t even grant Lt. Thorne-Begland the courtesy of a Senate vote.”

On Twitter, Del. Alfonso Lopez (D), who along with Del. Patrick Hope (D) was among the 33 “yes” votes for Thorne-Begland, Tweeted about the vote in real time early yesterday morning.

“Shameful,” Lopez said. “Virginia and Mr. Thorne-Begland deserved better. I have a feeling the Commonwealth will be in national headlines again.”

Del. Bob Brink and Del. David Englin, Democrats who both represent portions of Arlington, were among the 26 lawmakers who did not cast a vote on Thorne-Begland.

Update at 1:55 p.m. — Del. Marshall and Sen. Barbara Favola (D) appeared on NewsChannel 8′s NewsTalk program this morning to discuss the judicial vote. 

Update at 3:35 p.m. — Del. Brink has issued a statement to ARLnow.com regarding his absence from the voting.

Due to previously scheduled travel out of the country, I was absent for the May 14 session of the House — the first session I’ve missed in my 15 years as Delegate. The House minutes reflect that I was granted a leave of absence for this reason.

Tracy is my friend. For several weeks, after the right-wing threat to his nomination became known, along with other concerned members of the General Assembly including my colleague Adam Ebbin, we strategized on the steps needed to get him confirmed. I deeply regret that we were unsuccessful.

The rejection of this eminently well qualified lawyer, in addition to its unfairness to him, is a loss to Virginia’s justice system and another black mark on Virginia’s reputation.

It goes without saying that I would have vigorously supported and voted for Tracy if I had been present.

Photo via Office of Sen. Adam Ebbin

Print Friendly and PDF
  • sunflower

    Be ashamed, Virginia, be very ashamed!

    • novasteve

      So please go back to wher eyou are from if Virginia is so terrible.

      • R. Griffon

        Right. Because people shouldn’t stand up for equal treatment of others. They should just move to somewhere where people are less bigoted and let the homophobes/racists/whatever have their way. That’s an excellent worldview.

        • drax

          To wit: “Go back to Africa.”

          • stupid moderator

            Apparently He is allowed to say that to Sunflower buth te post that He should leave Arlington as Hee is ALWAYS saying how terrible it is here was deleteted…sheesh (as presumably will this one)

      • sunflower

        I left VA in 2001; this is the interwebs, remember?

      • MC 703

        If only all those uppity folks had just left the South back in the 50s.

      • dk

        So Steve, you are in favor of voting against an otherwise qualified individual solely on the basis of his sexual preference? Do tell.

        • novasteve

          And you know for a fact that everyone who voted him down or didn’t vote for him did it because he’s a homosexual?

          • Mary-Austin

            No. They have no problem with him being a homosexual. They voted him down because he is open about it and not stuck in the closet as they would prefer.
            As the “honorable” Del. Marshall pointed out, there are probably “latent homosexuals” on the bench already.

          • jackson

            We know that’s why Bob “led the charge” against him. The headline is directly from his official website:

            Marshall Seeks to Remove Homosexual Advocate from Judgeship List

            General Assembly to Vote Monday
            Legislator Cites Nominee’s Long History as ‘Aggressive Activist for Pro-Homosexual Agenda’

            http://delegatebob.com/

        • Could be wrong

          You may not believe their claims as to why they voted the way they did, but they are telling people it’s because they don’t want an activist judge on the stand who will legislate from the bench– NOT because they’re gay. IObviously, feel free to think they are lying and just hate gay people, but plenty of lawmakers vote against someone on the basis of their judicial restraint, or lack thereof. Just sayin.

          • drax

            There’s no evidence that this nominee wouldn’t show judicial restraint though.

          • Patrick

            Except his stated opposition to part of the Virginia state constitution.

          • drax

            You’re not thinking this through Patrick.

            There is nothing wrong with opposing part of the Constitution. I do. A judge can oppose something and still enforce it. He doesn’t just follow his own personal views on the bench. He’s not a legislator, he’s a judge.

            No judge supports every single law on the books, yet they don’t go around striking down laws just because they don’t like them.

            There is no reason to say that someone isn’t qualified to be a judge simply because he wanted to change the Constitution, or laws, in the past. That’s completely absurd.

          • WeiQiang

            So, by that standard, Ken Cuccinelli shouldn’t be AG because he’s against abortion?

          • marie antoinette

            Oh good grief, Drax and its if you dont like certain parts of the Constitution just ignore them and dont follow the law schtick is back, I see…

          • CP

            Evidence that somebody won’t do something? You hold everybody to that standard, podjo?

          • Muusk

            He’s a well-regarded prosecutor, known for being tough on crime but also intelligent and fair, with an impeccable record of applying the law in the courtroom. His nomination was considered a complete no-brainer with widespread bipartisan support until the “Family Foundation” got wind of it and started a smear campaign. Other judges voted in on the same day were far more “activist” than this guy, on issues such as gun laws. No concern was raised about those judges, even though their issues are far more likely to be a factor in the kind of crimes being prosecuted in these courts.

      • yequalsy

        Thanks goodness the founding fathers ignored people like you.

      • Mary-Austin

        It’s not Virginia that is terrible…it’s the extremist social conservatives that have outsize influence on the state like Bob Marshall.
        He’s a sorry excuse for a Christian and the Family Foundation’s little b**ch.
        These folks act like they are waging jihad or something. Wonder how well that will work out for them at the polls.

        • Thes

          Unfortunately, no Virginia legislators are on the ballot for another year. The Virginia Senate and Virginia governor are elected out-of-cycle from the President and Congress, which suppresses turnout and results in a legislature that is much more conservative than they would be if Virginians voted every two years as citizens in many other states do.

          • InternetSavant

            Virginia does vote for Delegates every two years.

            Also, over half of the states elected governors in 2010, a non-Presidential election year.

            But other than that, your tin foil hat looks very dapper on you.

          • drax

            Thes’s comments were perfectly rational.

            Va. votes off-cycle, like he said. He said nothing about every two years. He wasn’t talking about presidential years either. Did you even read his comment? Did you understand it? Do you understand the difference between even and odd numbers?

          • InternetSavant

            He said nothing about every two years.

            Yes, he did. Read it again.

            He wasn’t talking about presidential years either

            Yes, he was. Read it again.

            Not going to respond to the other rhetorical personal attacks.

      • Max

        I’m from Virginia. Several places throughout Virginia, too. Go away.

    • DSS10

      Virginiastan

      • demonfafa

        I thought he was referring to Uruguay. Get it? Hoo boy.

  • Corey

    This is some truly odious stuff. It’s embarrassing now, it’ll be mortifying in 10 years.

  • drax

    It is a truly pathetic argument to say that a judge must support every law or every part of the state Constitution. A judge can enforce something, as he swears an oath to do, without believing in it personally. By that test, I bet most of our judges wouldn’t qualify. What a lame-ass excuse for plain bigotry.

    • DCBuff

      Huh? Upholding the Constitution is exactly what a judge is empowered to do. No, judges don’t have to “support” every law if the law is unconstitutional; however, a judge is not empowered to oppose a law based on personal views. So, it is not a pathetic argument at all. But, this vote looks pretty lame, for sure.

      • drax

        And that’s my point – a judge is perfectly capable of upholding the constitution while wishing it would be amended. He is not empowered to oppose a law based on personal views – and there is no evidence whatsoever that this gentleman would try to do that.

  • jackson

    Amazing how many times recently Bob McDonnell has managed to come off as the moderate, rational one in the group.

    It’s like Rodney Dangerfield’s character said in “Back to School”: If you want to look thin, hang out with fat people!

    • D’oh

      I’d be willing to bet he met with House Republicans and they planned on doing just this. McDonnell looks moderate even though he knew/wanted the nomination would fail. Happens all the time in politics.

      • jackson

        I bet you’re right. McDonnell needs to appear moderate if he hopes to graduate out of Virginia into the national scene. Few people around here will be fooled though.

        • Westover

          In the same vein that Tim Kaine got tough with Virginia’s budget on his way out to assume a national position with the Democratic party. Had to build up some fiscal street cred.

          The way he slashed education was pretty appalling and something they are just now correcting.

          • drax

            You’re saying a Democrat had to cut education in order to get ahead in the Democratic Party? Really?

          • Westover

            That is not what I said.

          • drax

            Okay, so why’d he need “fiscal street cred?” Did you mean for a run for president?

          • Westover

            Not here to think for you. Ruminate on why he cut education spending by roughly 1/4 in his final budget.

      • drax

        The vote tally doesn’t support your theory.

        8 Republicans voted to confirm him, out of 31 yes votes. Another 27 Republicans either abstained or didn’t vote.

        Weird that a third of the House didn’t vote at all.

        • D'oh!

          I wonder if all the no votes were procedural. I’m not very familiar with the state legislative process.

          • drax

            Not sure what you mean, but 10 abstained (meaning they were there to cast a vote, but didn’t vote yes or no) while 26 didn’t cast a vote and probably weren’t there.

      • dk

        I’d happily bet the mortgage payment on that.

    • Tabs

      Zackers.

  • Noonan

    Looks like we avoided another activist judge.

    • D’oh

      Phew! We almost had a judge with a record of standing up for equality and civil rights. Close one!

    • drax

      What exactly is your evidence that he would have been an “activist” judge? What is an “activist” judge, Noonan?

      • Noonan

        Better safe than sorry.

      • Corey

        Anyone who remotely threatens Noonan’s privilege.

      • marie antoinette

        For starters by disclosing his sexual orientation on Nightline to challenge the military’s don’t ask don’t tell policy.

        I am sure he is a great guy and from all my reading he is. But it is not the position or job of a judge to legislate from the bench.

        • Flying Spaghetti Monster

          yeah, not really sure how hearing lower court civil suits would allow him to “legislate from the bench” (gotta love these right-wing catch phrases!), but whatever. Live your own psychosis.

    • CW

      Wouldn’t having opposite views make someone an “activist” for the other side?

    • Josh S

      Who is “we?”

      • Patrick

        The residents of the commonwealth of VA.

        • Josh S

          Well, as a resident of the commonwealth of VA, I explicitly exscuse myself from inclusion in that “we.” *I* didn’t “avoid another activist judge.” I sadly witnessed a shameful act of bigotry and callous and cynical politicking by those who rejected this nominee.

    • sawardja

      Definition of an “Activist Judge”: ['æk-tə-vɪst dʒʌdʒ] A judge who does not agree with your position.

      • drax

        Thank you.

        • marie antoinette

          Ugh. It’s when a judge attempts to legislate from the bench, rather than enforce the laws already on the books. Why is this such a difficult concept to understand?

          • Flying Spaghetti Monster

            Because it’s hackneyed right wing code for any judge who doesn’t follow the bigoted GOP party line. Segregation was a law on the books. So was denying women the vote. Didn’t make them just laws, did it?

  • Jon

    Any excuses for those that abstained from voting? Just as shameful as those who voted ‘no’ and who stand on the wrong side of history.

  • novasteve

    Didn’t the libs who borked Bork say that if he was confirmed that we would have segregation again and women would be slaves or something like that?

    You think this is limited to conservatives?

    • jackson

      (1) That was 25 years ago and at the national level.

      (2) Two Democratic Senators voted in his favor and six Republican Senators voted against him, so opposition to him was hardly down party lines.

      • MC 703

        pwnd

      • Westover

        25 years ago national politics was about all the cable news covered. Today everything can become national news at the click of a mouse.

        Your first point therefore holds little water.

      • SomeGuy

        I’m not weighing in on the article itself, but your suggestion that 8 out of 100 senators crossing party lines constitutes a truly bipartisan vote (i.e., “hardly down party lines”) is part of what concerns me about our politics.

        • Josh S

          Compared to many votes today when zero politicians cross party lines? Yeah, that qualifies as bipartisanship…..

    • Anon

      Bork was nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court. This guy was nominated for the General District court, where they handle parking tickets and minor criminal matters.

    • Max

      Stop equating the legalization of homosexuality with the legalization of slavery.

      • Descendant of Slaves

        Huh?

  • http://www.garrettpeck.com VASQ

    I’m just glad that there’s an election this fall; if Rob Marshall somehow takes the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, I will cast my ballot with glee against him. I hope Tim Kaine smokes him in the election.

    I don’t like political name-calling, but I will stoop to it for Rob Marshall. He’s a douche bag. He has caused a tremendous amount of harm and legalized discrimination against gay people. It’s shameful, especially in the 21st century.

  • girlFace

    yee-haw !
    Cornfed & Cleetus save us again from ev-ul-doo-ers !

    Virginia really IS for
    heterosexual,
    gun-toting,
    cigarette-smoking
    Lovers !!

    • novasteve

      Gotta love your liberal tolerance. If a conservative makes a generalization, it’s racist, bigotry homophobia. You do it, it’s okay. In fact, you can imply they are “inbred rednecks”, but that’s okay. If I don’t think positive thoughts about Rupaul, i am a bigot.

      • jackson

        Where do you get the implication of being “inbred” from heterosexual,
        gun-toting, and cigarette-smoking?

        • Mary-Austin

          His own generalization of “real” Virginians whom he has little in common with.

      • Corey

        Yeah, libs! Why are you so intolerant of intolerance??? Answer me that!

        • drax

          I am intolerant of tolerance of intolerance. But I tolerate intolerance of intolerance.

  • Loocy

    Wait a sec — Bob Brink abstained from the vote? He’s just lost my support.

    • drax

      No, he is listed as not voting, as opposed to abstaining, which probably means he wasn’t there to vote. Abstain means you cast a vote as “present” without saying yes or no.

      Not sure if it matters though. Where was he?

    • drax
    • Loocy

      Okay, I’m glad to see that Brink was a supporter, just was out of the country at the time and so unable to be present. Thanks arlnow for printing Brink’s statement.

      When are legislatures going to start doing business by Skype?

  • Sue

    I’d like to know why Brink and Englin didn’t vote.

    • dk

      I DEMAND to know the answer to this question. W.T.F?

      • dk

        Since I live in the 48th, I just called and left a message at Brink’s office. If I get a call back, I’ll be sure to let you know what he has to say for himself.

    • Joe

      Yeah, this. What the heck?

    • FormerArlingtonian

      I was shocked to see this and definitely wonder why they didn’t vote.

    • Mary-Austin

      Bob Brink didn’t vote because he is in Turkey. He had already planned to be out of the country before this special session.

      Englin seems to be pretty much over the whole job thing now that his affair has become public and he will be departing after this term.

      • Sam

        That’s correct. The house minutes state he was granted an excused absence along with Englin.

        http://dela.house.virginia.gov/chamber.nsf/25eeb1bc05736b308525713a00610dd3/364f659eb81c2fdf852579fe0051fc53?OpenDocument

      • dk

        At the risk of sounding like a crank…why is Bob Brink in Turkey during session?

        • tool

          This was a special, unplanned session… and frankly, I don’t know that I would cancel an international trip for a part-time, pointless job. In the current climate, anyone to the left of Cuckoo-nelly and Bigot Bob is wasting their time even showing up in Richmond. Not a sermon, just a thought. Does anyone seriously hold politicians to standards anymore?…

      • dk

        Englin has almost TWO YEARS left in his term. It’s a little early to check out, isn’t it?

        • dk

          Perhaps I owe Englin an apology. I did not see that the vote was held at 1 am.

  • red

    Since David Englin’s webite specifically states his agenda to include “Stand up for the rights of all Virginians,” I will be sending him a disappointed email. I suggest you do the same. DelDEnglin@house.va.gov

  • MC 703

    “the homosexual agenda” sounds evil. Exposes his bigotry.

    • G Clifford Prout (now moderated for extra purity)

      I found a copy of the agenda:

      6:00 am Gym
      8:00 am Breakfast (oatmeal and egg whites)
      9:00 am Hair appointment
      10:00 am Shopping
      12:00 PM Brunch

      2:00 PM
      1) Assume complete control of the U.S. Federal, State and Local
      Governments as well as all other national governments,
      2) Recruit all straight youngsters to our debauched lifestyle,
      3) Destroy all healthy heterosexual marriages,
      4) Replace all school counselors in grades K-12 with agents of Colombian
      and Jamaican drug cartels,
      5) Establish planetary chain of “homo breeding gulags” where over-medicated
      imprisoned straight women are turned into artificially impregnated baby
      factories to produce prepubescent love slaves for our devotedly
      pederastic gay leadership,
      6) bulldoze all houses of worship, and
      7) Secure total control of the INTERNET and all mass media for the
      exclusive use of child pornographers.

      2:30 PM Get forty winks of beauty rest to prevent facial wrinkles from
      stress of world conquest
      4:00 PM Cocktails
      6:00 PM Light Dinner (soup, salad, with Chardonnay)
      8:00 PM Theater
      11:00 PM Bed (du jour)?

      • nice one!

        made me lol.

      • drax

        The Protocols of the Elders of Stonewall

        • ThereStandsJacksonAtTheGayBar

          stonewall is pretty popular around here

          • drax

            I always wondered about that Jackson guy and his fancy hats and stuff.

      • John Fontain

        +10!

      • Tabs

        Awesome. Sounds like a great day!

    • novasteve

      Any worse than when lefties use terms like “big oil” “bankers” the “1%” or any other group they hate?

      • Josh S

        Thinking.
        Thinking.
        Thinking.
        Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, yes.

      • D'oh!

        yes.

      • tool

        Let’s see… “big oil” refers to the mega-sized oil corporations… “bankers” refers to, um, banks…. and “1%” refers to the top 1% of income earners in society… How else would you refer to those groups to be as specifically inclusive?

        • marie antoinette

          Um, how about some of the biggest doners to the Obama Administration?

  • sunflower

    and Marshall’s complaint is that T-B didn’t support “don’t ask don’t tell?”

    last time I checked that was repealed, which means T-B did not want to uphold a bad policy.

  • http://nationleprechaun.com/ jinushaun

    Stuff like this reminds me that I live in Virginia… aka, the South.

    • DCBuff

      Then leave. You won’t need a reminder then.

      • tool

        Actually, DC… our goal is to eventually get you to move. Patience will prove a virtue on our part. Please do let us know when we succeed! =) (and isn’t your handle a wee bit, um, un-Virginian?)

        • not your bro

          His comment bothered me more than his handle. I hope I misunderstood the meaning of “You won’t need a reminder then.” DCBuff, what do you think jinushaun needs a reminder about?

  • JohnB

    Looking at the roll call from the linked article I’m not sure why he wasn’t confirmed. 33 Yeas to 31 Nays with 26 not voting and 10 Abstentions. Surely there were 18 votes out of the 36 legislators who couldn’t be bothered to have an opinion.

    • JohnB

      Possible explanation from the linked NY Times Article:

      “The vote, which took place after 1 a.m., after a number of delegates had already gone home, took lawmakers by surprise.”

  • WeiQiang

    So, novasteve, does Del Marshall represent your views on the nomination of this judicial candidate and on gay families in Virginia, in general?

    • novasteve

      Does the openly gay Democrat who didn’t vote for him either represent some view on gay families in Virginia too?

      • not your bro

        which openly gay democrat was that?

        • novasteve

          Did you read the article?

          • not your bro

            Yes, I did. Still don’t know which openly gay democrat you’re talking about, and can’t find any other news outlet reporting this, so assuming you’re making it up. Unless, of course, you think State Senator Adam Ebbin is in the House of Delegates, and were surprised not to find his name on the “yea” list.

          • not your bro

            . . . still waiting . . .

      • WeiQiang

        You going to answer my question?

  • Max

    By the same logic, we shouldn’t allow women that haven’t had an abortion to be justices.

    • WeiQiang

      Or men than have expressed a desire to outlaw abortions.

      • WeiQiang

        … that have …

      • Max

        I went overboard for sure. Let’s just tell women that have served their country honorably and are raising two children while busy being an attorney that they are an abomination to society.

  • novasteve

    My point of argument with you guys is, you don’t know why this nominee wasn’t approved. You had one comment from one person, and you had even an openly gay delegate who didn’t vote for him. Lots were absent too. B ut you are blaming this on homophobia, based upon ONE voter, and the people you would have thought would have supported him, didn’t. Even the Governor supported him. Yet all I’m hearing is bigotry that, bigotry this, when you simply don’t know why.

    • Megan

      They are all just anonymous cowards. Better to just ignore them.

    • Richard Emerson

      Thus far, Del. Marshall has gone on record providing the only reason (pathetic as it may be) to have voted against him. Are you aware of any other reasons that Republican delegates would have voted against someone nominated for judge by a Republican governor? Until such point as other delegates come forward to offer explanations as to why they voted against a qualified nominee, it stands to reason that the simplest explanation makes the most sense.

      If anyone who voted against him would like to proffer an alternative explanation, then he/she is free to do so. Until then, the idea that they did so out of bigotry is not an unacceptable assumption to make.

      • novasteve

        Why did not all democrats vote for him them? Because A republican governor supported his candidacy? Can you profer a reason why democrats didn’t vote for him?

        • Richard Emerson

          The roll call vote list from the Richmond Times Dispatch shows that all 31 “nay” votes were Republicans. Of the 10 abstentions, 9 were Republicans and 1 was an Independent. There were no Democrat nays or abstentions. All Democrats present did vote for Mr. Thorne-Begland.

          As to why others were not present, the vote was held at 1 AM and at a date after the traditional end of the legislative session. Of the 28 delegates who were not present, 19 were Republicans and only 7 were Democrats.

          I am a Republican, and I see this vote as bald political maneuvering at its worst.

          • jackson

            Well said, Richard.

      • Fact

        The Governor does not nominate candidates for judgeships in Virginia. It is a legislative nomination.

        • novasteve

          I said the governor supported him, not nominated him.

    • drax

      Steve, I only see one post on this thread that says that anyone other than Marshall, who made his bigotry quite clear, voted against this nominee due to hatred of gays.

    • Max

      Not all votes against him were because he was gay, but it seems the leading charge against him was that he was gay. His own personal view towards marriage has little to do with the position he would have served. Because you say you’re a lawyer, you would know that he would have little power over issues like marriage or civil rights.

      That being said, I’ll be a happy gay man when the homophobia coming from these people dies with them, and their grandchildren will look back ashamed.

    • dk

      They are welcome to offer alternative explanations at any time. Yet not one person has come forward to say, “Del. Marshall does not speak for me; I voted no for the following non-bigoted reason(s)…..”

      In fact, it is downright shocking that Marshall could make such an offensive statement in support of his position AND NOT ONE no-voter has objected. I would argue that means the no votes either agree with Marshall or can see no political gain in disagreeing with bigotry. Very inspiring.

      • WeiQiang

        PRE-cisely.

      • InternetSavant

        Great internet screed. All that and a couple bucks will get you a cup of coffee.

      • drax

        It’s not fair to assume what they think until they say otherwise.

        • dk

          Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

    • WeiQiang

      Isn’t that the point of this sort of legislative cowardice at 1am … to be able to mumble their way to the result they want and then create all this meaningless churn around it?

      Del Marshall has been extremely clear in his animus toward gay Virginians.

×

Subscribe to our mailing list