Before ending the session, the Virginia legislature approved new judicial appointments this past May. Among the nominees, was openly gay prosecutor Tracy Thorne-Begland. However, Thorne Begland was denied a seat on the General District Court due to his sexual orientation. Now leading attorneys in the area are requesting that the Circuit Court place him in an intermediary judicial position.
This is a really difficult case.
My reaction for weeks has been one of disappointment in Delegate Marshall and State House Republicans who stopped this nomination in its tracts. At first glance, this sounds like discrimination against Thorne-Belgand simply because he is gay.
On the other hand, if you were to listen to Bob Marshall’s speech on the floor encouraging proponents of the Marriage Amendment to oppose a disingenuous, dishonest political activist, you get a sense of what could be expected from a Judge Thorne-Begland. Namely, someone who would work to overturn our laws to suit a personal agenda.
I have tried to form a definitive opinion on this subject. I cannot.
If, Thorne-Begland’s nomination is being opposed because he is a homosexual that social conservatives don’t feel comfortable with on the bench, then opposition to his nomination is clearly and patently wrong. Not until, republicans are willing to prevent adulterers and liars from putting on the robe can we prevent others from serving.
At the same time, if Thorne-Begland’s legacy is one of activism, if it is one of personally ignoring our Constitutional Marriage Amendment and getting married himself; if it is his desire to overturn our laws through judicial fiat, then a rationale exists for republicans to oppose his nomination.
I am a social conservative. But I don’t want these types of fights. I do not want to be put in a position where the nomination of a well qualified prosecutor is opposed. But if liberals are going to have us make the choice between confirming their nominee and undermining our own laws with a judicial activist, our backs are against the wall.
If Thorne-Belgand could come forward with his judicial views, convincing the Commonwealth that he takes his Oath seriously, then he should be given serious consideration. But until we have more facts, I am not in a place to rush to judgment.