Civil liberties group does not take position on judicial appointments, but opposes any government process that discriminates against LGBT persons.Richmond, VA – The ACLU of Virginia today issued a statement criticizing members of the House of Delegates’ for their refusal to appoint Tracy Thorne-Begland as a Richmond General District Court judge because he is openly gay.
After receiving endorsements from the courts of justice committees in both the House of Delegates and the Senate, Thorne-Begland, who is currently chief deputy commonwealth's attorney for the City of Richmond, appeared to have strong bipartisan support throughout the legislature.
According to news accounts, however, last minute lobbying from the Family Foundation and Del. Robert G. Marshall, who expressed concerns that Thorne-Begland’s sexual orientation would influence his judicial decisions, turned the tide.
In the end, Thorne-Begland received only 33 of the 51 votes needed in the House of Delegates to secure the judgeship.
Statement from Kent Willis, Executive Director, ACLU of Virginia
The ACLU of Virginia does not take a position on judicial appointments, and in that tradition we were neither for nor against the appointment of Thorne-Begland to the Richmond General District Court. However, we vigorously oppose any governmental process in which stereotyping based on race, gender, religion, disability or sexual orientation is involved. By all accounts, Mr. Thorne-Begland’s appointment would have been approved were he not gay.
At one time or another, the ACLU of Virginia has found common ground with almost every legislator, and we have worked hand in hand with the most socially conservative groups in the state when our goals are similar. But everyone involved in this ugly episode should be ashamed of themselves. It is bad enough that Virginia has generally taken the slow road to LGBT equality, but it is even worse for state officials to exercise such appallingly disgraceful bigotry in such an important government function.
Contact: Kent Willis, Executive Director, 804-644-8022