Letter to the Editor: Shame on Virginia, Again
Alexandrian Karen Gautney says the crusade against the potential judgeship of Tracy Thorne-Begland is unfair and un-American.
To the Editor:
The Republican-led Virginia House of Delegates has once again drawn the spotlight to Richmond, and not in a good way. Tracy Thorne-Begland, a prosecutor and former Navy pilot, was nominated for a judgeship with the General District Court in Richmond. In spite of early bipartisan support, Del. Bob Marshall decided to stop his appointment. Why? Because Thorne-Begland is gay. Marshall, as you may know, is obsessively anti-gay.
Fifty-one votes were needed to approve the appointment. In the end, only 31 of 100 delegates, all Republican, followed Marshall in voting against the appointment. Thirty-three voted to approve it, including eight Republicans. What happened to the other 36 delegates? Ten Republicans voted to abstain, and 26 (both Republicans and Democrats) did not vote at all. The good news is that only 31 delegates went along with the discrimination. Also, while 10 more did not have the courage to stand against their conservative leaders, they also did not want their names associated with this discriminatory act. Who knows what the other 26 were thinking or doing at the time.
Marshall offered bizarre arguments to persuade colleagues in the Republican-dominated House to vote against Thorne-Begland. Not only is he gay, Marshall asserted, he was kicked out of the military 20 years ago for being gay. That means he defied his oath, since gay people were not supposed to be in the military in the first place. What’s more, Thorne-Begland spoke out that the ban was unjust. And if that’s not enough to scare you, Thorne-Begland lives openly with his male partner and their children. Marshall saw a pattern of activism that meant Thorne-Begland was destined to be an activist judge, and not the kind he wants.
If those who speak out against their own oppression are unfit for public service, how do we account for all those monuments to presidents who revolted against the British? Was Thurgood Marshall unfit for the Supreme Court because he challenged the status quo? Is every woman who advocates for equality disqualified from the bench? Of course not. Speaking out against discrimination and inequality is about as American as you can get. A desire for fairness is the most desirable quality we could hope for in a judge.
Marshall showed no fairness when he crusaded against Tracy Thorne-Begland, a fine American. The ultra-conservatives running Richmond have once again brought ridicule and shame upon Virginia. Frankly, we deserve what Comedy Central is about to do to us.