Virginia lawmakers okay gay judge Tracy Thorne-Begland

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Local,Virginia,Steve Contorno

The General Assembly on Tuesday approved a gay Richmond prosecutor to serve a judgeship in the 13th General District Court.

Tracy Thorne-Begland, a deputy commonwealth attorney and former Navy officer who came out on national television while serving in the 1990s, was confirmed by the House on a 66-28 vote a year after the same chamber rejected him because of his sexual orientation.

Last June, shortly after lawmakers refused to appoint Thorne-Begland, the Richmond Circuit Court appointed the former prosecutor to fill a vacancy on the bench on an interim basis. Courts have the authority to fill vacancies when legislators are not in Richmond.

As an incumbent judge, Thorn-Begland received high praise from his peers, making his path to appointment easier this time around.

The House approved Thorne-Begland without debate even though he was the only judicial nominee facing significant opposition on the floor. Last year, House Republicans led the charge to deny Thorne-Begland's appointment.

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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