Virginia considers first openly-gay judge (again)

South of the Maryland border, Virginia is deciding whether to approve the full-time appointment of  the first openly-gay judge in the state.

The state’s General Assembly is discussing the judicial appointment of Richmond’s Manchester General District Judge Tracy Thorne-Begland, who has been serving as an interim judge since the state legislature last year failed to approve his appointment, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The Virginia House Courts of Justice Committee certified Thorne-Begland along with a number of other candidates Monday, Virginia Lawyers Weekly reported. The vote will now go before the General Assembly for consideration.

Thorne-Begland was on the verge of being confirmed last May when a last-minute scramble over his past derailed his plans. Some conservatives were concerned about his sexual orientation and others took issue with Thorne-Begland’s decision to openly come out while he was in the U.S. Navy in 1992, a time when the military still banned homosexuals from serving.

He needs 51 votes in his favor to pass the House of Delegates. The vote would then move on to the Senate.

Last year, Thorne-Begland received only 33 votes in the House.

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