Last night, the Virginia House of Delegates debated past midnight whether to appoint a gay man to be a judge. They finally voted after 1 a.m., and rejected the nomination of prosecutor Tracey Thorne-Begland to General District Court judge in Richmond. We’ll have an editorial on that tomorrow, but in the meantime you can read the comments of Sen. Brian McEachin below, which pretty well sum things up.
But first, here’s an inaction shot featuring two of our local delegates courtesy of Richmond Times-Dispatch photographer Bob Brown, by way of the Associated Press.
In the front, looking like he is dozing off, is Del. Nick Rush, R-Christiansburg. The one face-palming in the back is Del. Onzlee Ware, D-Roanoke. (The bored-looking one in the middle is Del. Israel O’Quinn, R-Bristol.)
The vote on the gay judge went 33-31 with 10 abstentions and 26 lawmakers not voting. It needed 51 votes to pass. Rush abstained. Ware did not vote.
When they and anyone else who did not vote last night seek re-election, I hope voters remember. They either refused to go on the record or lacked the stamina to fulfill their duty. Neither is acceptable.
Click here for a pdf of the vote tally. Locally:
Yea: Joe Yost, R-Blacksburg
Nay: Charles Poindexter, R-Glade Hill
Abstention: Anne Crockett-Stark, R-Wytheville; Lacey Putney, I-Bedford; Nick Rush, R-Christiansburg
Not voting: Greg Habeeb, R-Salem; Chris Head, R-Roanoke; Onzlee Ware, D-Roanoke
Statement by Senator Donald McEachin on GA’s Failure to Appoint Tracy Thorne-Begland
RICHMOND, VA – Today, Senator Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) made the following statement on the General Assembly’s failure to appoint Tracy Thorne-Begland to the Richmond District Court.
“Tracy Thorne-Begland is a highly qualified and exceptionally competent prosecutor, who also served our country with honor as a Navy pilot. The blatant prejudice that Republicans displayed last night should have no place in our government. The GOP took Virginia back to the bigotry and mean-spirited prejudice of the 1960s. I thought we had made more progress toward a just society than this.
“The only criteria legislators should apply when selecting judges are that person’s ability to fairly and impartially weigh the law. Mr. Thorne-Begland’s qualifications for appointment to the bench were unimpeachable, but Republicans cynically voted against his appointment just because he was gay,” said Senator McEachin.