According to The Washington Post, the Circuit Court has authority to fill vacancies on the General District Court bench, but the appointments last only until the next legislative session. Tracy Thorne-Begland is now the first openly gay judge in Virginia.
«The Governor believes Mr. Thorne-Begland is well-qualified to serve on the bench,» Governor Robert F. McDonnell's spokesman wrote in an e-mail. «He congratulates him on the appointment.»
Delegate Robert G. Marshall, who helped persuade the General Assembly to reject the appointment of Thorne, said: «I think it’s highly imprudent and arrogant on their part. I hope Virginia understands what’s going on here: They’re contesting the authority of the General Assembly. . . . This is an act of defiance on their part. When appointed officials get in fights with elected officials, they invariably lose.»
According to the newspaper, opponents said they objected to Thorne-Begland not because of his sexual orientation but because of his outspokenness on the subject of gay rights.
Thorne-Begland came out on «Nightline», an ABC show, to challenge the now-defunct policy against gays serving in the military. He supported same-sex marriage. He is also the father of twins with his partner.