An openly gay Virginia prosecutor -- who made national headlines after the House of Delegates denied him a judicial appointment because of his sexuality -- may still stand a chance of getting an interim judgeship.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that because the Virginia House and Senate already authorized funding to fill the Richmond General District Court judgeship, the six judges of Richmond's Circuit Court have the authority to decide whether to fill the judgeship.
Since that particular district is a busy judicial district, it seems probable that they will fill it.
Lawmakers and supporters familiar with the issue say Tracy Thorne-Begland -- a 12-year veteran prosecutor who currently serves as Richmond’s chief deputy commonwealth attorney -- will be among those considered, according to RTD.
"I think he's very qualified to do the job," said Del. G. Manoli Loupassi, R-Chesterfield, who supported Thorne-Begland in the House.
"If you look at his record, it's impeccable. I wish I could lug the other 99 delegates around with me to hear what I hear every day," he added. "Any police officer, judge, prosecutor, defense attorney will tell you to a man that he would be excellent."
A judgeship is normally a six-year term, but anyone appointed by the judges will serve on an interim basis and be subject to approval by the General Assembly when it reconvenes in January.
* The Washington Post reports that the subject of gay judges will be a hot-button issue at the Virginia Senate primary debates.
One of the candidates, Del. Robert Marshall, led the fight to block Thorne-Begland’s nomination because the prosecutor advocated for gay marriage and lives with his partner and their children. Thorne-Begland also challenged the military’s ban on gays serving in the military when he came out as gay as a naval office on “Nightline” 20 years ago.
Another candidate, E.W. Jackson, had a similar stance as Marshall:
“Homosexuals have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as do all Americans,” Jackson said in a news release. “Nevertheless, sexual orientation is not a protected class under the Virginia Constitution or our laws, nor should it be. Equating rights over ‘sexual orientation’ to black civil rights is not only specious logic but an insult to black Americans and the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement. It is not unlawful discrimination to block this appointment.”
The race’s frontrunner, George Allen, aligned his views with Gov. McDonnell, who objected to anti-gay discrimination in principle but refused to take a position on whether it had played a role in Thorne-Begland’s rejection, reported the Post.
Tim Kaine, the Democrat in the Senate race, said the rejection of Thorne-Begland was discrimination.
Via the Post:
“Gov. Kaine believes that the only standard for selecting judges should be their qualifications,” Brandi Hoffine, communications director for the former governor, said in an e-mail. “...This type of discrimination has no place in government, and serves to pit Virginians against one another at a time when we all need to be coming together.”
* Mayor Vincent Gray’s assistant campaign treasurer was charged Monday with three counts of making contributions in the names of other people and directing the money to a second campaign.
Washington City Paper asks how bad this looks for Gray, and then answers its own question:
“Horrible. Court records say Gore destroyed a 'spiral notebook' containing records of payments to Brown the same day that Brown went public in the Washington Post alleging that he got cash payments and the promise of a city job in return for attacking then-Mayor Adrian Fenty on the campaign trail. They also say Gore used Gray's campaign money to make illegal payments to Brown's campaign.
If Gray's problems remain limited to Brown, then the ramifications may not be so bad. But if bigger, Thompson-related shoes start dropping, who knows what could happen? Either way, it looks like the U.S. Attorney's Office has finally started making its move.
* The Post has a Q&A with a Washington doctor speaking out against a possible ban on late-term abortions."These laws put providers in a position where they have to turn away patients who have great need," he said.
* Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch announced Monday evening that if a work group reaches a consensus on the expansion of gambling in the state, a special session will be held the week of July 9.