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Virginia Court Appoints First Openly Gay Judge

Legislature had opposed Tracy Thorne-Begland
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jun 14, 2012 3:32 PM CDT

(Newser) – Circuit court judges in Richmond have appointed Virginia's first-ever openly gay judge, WSLS reports—a move the state's General Assembly opposed. The legislative body voted against Tracy Thorne-Begland's appointment as district court judge a month ago, the Washington Post notes. But the circuit court judges have chosen the prosecutor to serve temporarily, until the General Assembly reconvenes. "I applaud the circuit court judges for recognizing Mr. Thorne-Begland’s skill, qualifications and competency and putting aside bigotry, prejudice and false excuses," says a state Senate Democrat.

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A Republican state lawmaker who had opposed Thorne-Begland's appointment today changed his tune. "My initial opposition to Mr. Thorne-Begland had nothing to do with his sexual orientation," said Richard Morris in a letter to colleagues. Instead, it was founded on a national TV appearance 20 years ago during which Thorne-Begland, then a Navy pilot, came out as gay despite Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Morris said he had mistakenly thought Thorne-Begland was in uniform during the appearance, thus violating military rules. (Read more Virginia stories.)

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