Lawmakers in Virginia rejected the judicial nomination of an openly gay prosecutor Tuesday after conservatives argued that he would press an activist agenda.
The Virginia House of Delegates voted 33-31, with 10 abstentions, against granting Tracy Thorne-Begland a judge's seat on the General District Court in Richmond. He needed a majority of the 100-member House to be confirmed, The New York Times reported.
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Thorne-Begland would have been the state's first openly gay judge.
A deputy commonwealth attorney in Richmond, Thorne-Begland first disclosed his sexual orientation nearly 20 years ago as a Navy pilot in defiance of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. He was honorably discharged after the disclosure, according to The Associated Press.
Thorne-Begland's boss, Richmond Commonwealth Attorney Michael N. Herring, said Tuesday's vote was an "embarrassment" for the state.
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“It's hard to think about what happened in the General Assembly and not conclude that it's a form of bigotry,” he told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Herring said Thorne-Begland is a fine “man, father, lawyer Navy pilot, and would have been an outstanding judge.”
Conservatives, including Delegate Bob Marshall, a Republican from Prince William County, argued that certain aspects of Thorne-Begland's biography meant that he could not be impartial if he was a judge, The New York Times reported.
Thorne-Begland did not comment on the vote in a statement, only saying, "I look forward to continuing to serve the citizens of the city of Richmond and the great commonwealth of Virginia.”