Virginia’s first openly gay judge confirmed by General Assembly

After not receiving enough votes for a judicial appointment last year, the House of Delegates today elected Tracy Thorne-Begland to a full six-year term.

Update #2 – January 15th; 1:37 PM

Today, the General Assembly elected Tracy Thorne-Begland, the state’s first openly gay judge, to a full six-year term to the Richmond General District Court. A former Navy pilot who twice opposed the military’s former Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, Thorne-Begland received 66 votes in favor of his appointment and 28 votes against in the House of Delegates (51 votes were needed). The Senate then followed with a 28-0 vote to confirm.

Last year, Thorne-Begland failed to receive enough votes for a full appointment.

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Update #1 — January 15, 2013; 7:15 AM

Yesterday, a House of Delegates committee unanimously certified the judicial candidacy of Tracy Thorne-Begland, the Commonwealth’s first openly gay judge. His nomination for a full, six-year term will now move to a House vote.

Last May, Begland was denied appointment to a vacancy on Virginia’s General District Court after he received only 33 of the 51 necessary votes by the House of Delegates. Many delegates objected to Begland because he had twice opposed the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy (the military revoked that policy in 2011).

In June 2012, Richmond Circuit Court judges appointed Begland to an interim judgeship to fill the vacancy.

Begland must now secure approval from the Commonwealth’s legislature to remain a judge. With yesterday’s certification by the House Courts of Justice Committee, Begland’s nomination will once again go before the House. Reports suggest that Begland has enough bipartisan support to secure the necessary votes in both the House and Senate.

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Original — June 14, 2012; 3:05 PM

Virginia has its first openly gay judge. Tracy Thorne-Begland will serve on a General District Court, a decision made Thursday by Richmond Circuit Court judges. Thorne-Begland, a current Deputy Commonwealth Attorney for the City of Richmond, will take over the judgeship on an interim basis.

In May, the House of Delegates rejected Thorne-Begland’s nomination because he had publicly opposed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the long-held policy that banned openly gay individuals from serving in the military. The decision sparked national coverage, largely critical of the legislative decision.

In a press release issued this afternoon, State Sen. Donald McEachin said:

“I applaud the circuit court judges for recognizing Mr. Thorne-Begland’s skill, qualifications and competency and putting aside bigotry, prejudice and false excuses. I have always had and continue to have the utmost confidence in Mr. Thorne-Begland’s ability to serve our community and I am gratified to see that the circuit court judges share my confidence.”

RVANews profiled Tracy Thorne-Begland in August 2011.


photo courtesy of Tracy Thorne-Begland

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Nathan Cushing

Nathan Cushing is a writer, journalist, and RVANews Editor.

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.


  2. CeliaA on said:

    Awesome! To deny his judgeship on the basis that he actively opposed don’t ask don’t tell is like denying someone who once participated in a bus boycott or sit-in against Jim Crow.

  3. tom on said:

    I have the same last name as he does, I would be so PROUD to be related to him!!!

  4. Patricia Johnson on said:

    Congratulations Judge Thorne-Begland!

  5. SEW on said:

    Congrats Tracy! A well deserved honor!

  6. R Day on said:

    I guess the legislator’s opposed you because they feel you would be the wrong kind of activist judge. They absolutely in favor of activist judges, as long the activism is aimed in a direction for which they approve. I sincerely hope that you can hold the bench, and they don’t try to undo this great decision. Congratulations.

  7. Reighning Blows on said:

    we dont need more perverted judges

  8. Who cares if he is gay – If he has integrity and recognizes that responsibility of his job – The problem we have in Virginia is there is no integrity, accountability – Virginia is rated 47th and 49th in Corruption – out of 50 States – No one in our government is responsible – Virginia is like the wild west of the Old Boy Network – The Judicial System in Virginia is ruled on Favoritism and Cronyism instead of the Laws and the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia – The Judge’s General, Circuit , Federal are For Sale – so it might be refreshing to have a Gay Judge that has integrity – a change for Virginia –
    The bigger Question is – Why is the media ignoring the Corruption – turning an eye and not reporting on that – yet they have no problems – making such a big deal out of a gay judge? The citizens of Virginia and the United States of America – are being tossed out of their homes in the Foreclosure debacle – there is so much evidence in 4 cases in the City of Alexandria of the corruption (including one that might prove the whole GM bailout was a scam) – Arlington is no better – yet the media runs from it – What would have happened if Bob Woodward ignored the story on Nixon? Where are the investigative reporters or are they also afraid that they might end up like Nancy Dunning .

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