Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday morning blocked openly gay Richmond prosecutor Tracy Thorne-Begland from appointment as a District Court judge, according to the Associated Press.
Thorne-Begland received 33 yes votes and 31 no votes. All of the no votes came from Republican delegates. Ten delegates abstained and another 26 did not vote.
"In the final hours of a legislative session defined by right-wing reactionaries attempting to remake Virginia in their own radical image, Republicans in the General Assembly set a new and unthinkable standard for their backward agenda," Democratic Party of Virginia Chairman Brian Moran said.
Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall (R) announced on Saturday that he would challenge Thorne-Begland's nomination, calling him an “an aggressive activist for the pro-homosexual agenda.”
“After more than a week of pleading by some Republican Caucus members the House Republican leadership has so far declined to removed Mr. Thorne-Begland’s name from the block of nominees,” Marshall said in a statement. “If this situation remains unchanged, I will offer an amendment to remove his name.”
Marshall noted that Thorne-Begland has adopted two children with his male partner and has worked for LGBT rights organizations that support same sex marriage.
"As Chief Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney for Richmond and a decorated veteran, Tracy Thorne-Begland is qualified to serve as a General District Court Judge by any conventional measure," Moran added. "By rejecting him after a debate that centered almost exclusively on Mr. Thorne-Begland's sexual orientation, Virginia Republicans proved that a person's experience and qualifications are irrelevant to them if they object to whom that person is."
"It is difficult to consider last night's vote without using the word 'bigoted,' just as it's difficult to consider this period of unified Republican government without using the word 'disaster.'"
[Image via Flickr user VCU CNS, Creative Commons licensed]