Tracy Thorne-Begland’s long trip to the bench

Tracy Thorne-Begland's long trip to the bench
Tracy Thorne-Begland's long trip to the bench
Associated Press

Remember Tracy Thorne-Begland? Nearly a year ago, Thorne-Begland, a state prosecutor, a father, and a former Top Gun fighter pilot, was a state judicial nominee in Virginia. His nomination enjoyed bipartisan sponsorship, but it was defeated anyway – Thorne-Begland is gay and several Republicans said that made him biased and unqualified for the state bench.

This year, the decorated Navy veteran fared far better.

The Virginia House and Senate elected interim Judge Tracy Thorne-Begland to a full term on the Richmond Manchester General District Court today, giving legislative approval to the state’ s first openly gay judge after rejecting him last year.

The Republican-controlled House voted first, approving him 66-28 with one abstention, and was followed by a Senate vote of 28-0. Twelve social conservatives in the Senate did not vote.

That last line was of particular interest. Ben Tribbett reported that 12 Republicans in the state Senate “walked out” rather than vote on Thorne-Begland’s confirmation. “You read that correctly,” Tribbett added. “A majority of the Virginia Senate GOP – 12 of 20 Senators – walked out rather than vote for a gay judge.”

That said, Thorne-Begland’s nomination, which should have been approved last year, is now complete.