State lawmaker wants gay judicial nominee off candidate list

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - We're awaiting a vote at the State Capitol that could make a Richmond prosecutor the first openly gay district judge in Virginia. But one state lawmaker wants the controversial judicial nominee off the candidate list.

Tracy Thorne-Begland is the Chief Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney for Richmond. Delegate Bob Marshall thinks Thorne-Begland's past political actions raise a red flag and he shouldn't sit in judgement of others. But another state lawmaker said Thorne-Begland is the man for the job.

Thorne-Begland has prosecuted some tough cases. The most recent high profile conviction under his watch: the deadly road rage crash on I-195 that killed a Richmond man.

His personal life is no secret. He and his partner are raising twins.

"The applicant has represented himself to be married to a man which we don't recognize in Virginia," said Delegate Bob Marshall.

I asked Marshall whether Thorne-Begland's sexual orientation is why he wants his name off the judicial nominee list.

"(It's not because he is gay?) No, I know a lot of people who have that inclination. I've worked with such individuals," said Marshall.

Marshall said Thorne-Begland broke his oath and defied orders from the President when he challenged the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy on national television in the early 90's.

"He took an oath and broke it, so we're supposed to believe when he takes an oath here. I just don't think it's appropriate," said Marshall.

"It is a night court. It is a criminal and traffic court. They decide did Steve punch Mary. Did you spray paint that wall," said Del. Manoli Loupassi.

In a letter to the Courts of Justice chairman, Thorne-Begland said he would neutrally apply the law, not involve himself in political activities and recuse himself from a case if his impartiality could be questioned.

Marshall said he's looking down the road.

"District Court judges can be appointed to the Circuit Court, to the Federal Court. District Court judges can marry people," said Marshall.

Loupassi said Thorne-Begland is extremely qualified. That he's kept many from becoming potential crime victims.

"All those people are happy. He did his job and all those people do not care whether or not he was the Don't Ask Don't Tell guy," said Loupassi.

Thorne-Begland said it would be inappropriate to comment as a judicial nominee.

The Family Foundation said it also has concerns that Thorne-Begland may put his personal political agenda ahead of the law.

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