Tuesday, May 15, 2012

VA House of delegates turns down former gay Naval aviator for judgeship

The Virginia House of Delegates turned down a possible state judgeship to Tracy Thorne-Begland today.  He got 33 votes for, 31 against, and needed 51 in the General Assembly. Thorne is a prosecutor in Richmond.

Tracy Thorne made a name for himself in 1993 as a Naval Aviator appearing on Nightline early during the debate on gays in the military early in President Clinton’s first term.  He also testified in Norfolk in a notorious session in front of Senator Strom Thurmond (“it isn’t natural…”). Thorne was one of the most compelling young military officers fighting the ban.

The Richmond paper link is here

Social conservatives claimed his sexual orientation could influence his decision.

Delegate Mark D. Sickles, D-Fairfax, said “sexual orientation discrimination is alive and well in Virginia”.

Thorne would be about 45 years old now.  

Also, today CNN offered an op-ed on "What the Bible really says about homosexuality", "My Take", by Daniel A. Helminiak,  link .

Update: May 16:

The Washington Post has an editorial "Bigotry blocks a gay Virginian from bench", link here. The editorial mentions that Thorne and his partner are raising twin sons.  The news story in the Post refers to a GOP member of the legislature (Marshall, of the 2006 Marshall-Newman amendment) who compared Thorne's lifestyle to "polygamy".  A few comments in the legislature were pretty shocking. 

It is true, however, that advocacy for any particular political cause sometimes is seen as a sign of lack of "objectivity" required on the bench.  That's the old "conflict of interest" problem so familiar to me. 

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