Election 2012, Gay, Judicial Nominations, Politics, State Judges

Openly Gay Judicial Nominee Defeated For… Being Gay, And That’s It

I’m not sure if everyone has noticed, but right now in America gay people are the only people it’s okay to be openly bigoted against. Think about it, you can’t say that Obama can’t be president because he’s black. You have to dress it up and say crap like “he’s Kenyan,” or “he’s a communist,” or whatever. You can’t say that women’s health isn’t important. You have to say “birth control is for sluts,” or something that means the same thing, but allows you to say that “this isn’t a war on women.”

But with gay people, you can openly discriminate against them, and find a bunch of lawmakers who will applaud you. It’s not going to cost you a job. Nobody is going to pull your funding. Hell, North Carolina just put it in their constitution that it’s okay to deny gay people a basic civil right. How sick is that? A constitutional amendment that one group of people doesn’t have the same rights as other groups of people. Even the president basically said that while he personally didn’t hate gay people, it was still cool for each state to determine its own level of antipathy toward gay people, and legislate accordingly.

In that world, it’s not a huge surprise that the Commonwealth of Virginia just voted against a judicial appointment for an openly gay prosecutor because he is gay. That’s it. Not “he’s gay and also a terrible prosecutor,” not even “he’s gay and nobody likes him.” Just being gay was enough for the Virginia House to deny this man an appointment everybody agreed he was qualified for.

We’re living in a society where “f*** them queers” is an entirely valid political, social, and legal argument….

The story of Tracy Thorne-Begland shouldn’t just outrage progressives. It should outrage every person who thinks discrimination is bad. Thorne-Begland wasn’t even trying to do something as controversial as publicly marry somebody he fell in love with. He was just trying to get a job. And he had broad bi-partisan support to become a judge in Virginia, until conservatives got their hands on him. From the Richmond-Times Dispatch:

After a lengthy discussion, the GOP-controlled House of Delegates defeated the nomination of Tracy Thorne-Begland, Richmond’s chief deputy commonwealth’s attorney. He would have been the first openly gay judge elected in Virginia.

Thorne-Begland received 33 votes, and 31 delegates voted against him. He needed a majority of the 100-member House — 51 votes — to secure the judgeship…

Thorne-Begland’s nomination for a judgeship on the General District Court in Richmond, where he has been a prosecutor for 12 years, had been approved by courts committees in the House and Senate.

But his nomination came under fire late last week, as the Family Foundation and Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William, stoked fears that the 45-year-old attorney would allow his sexual orientation to influence his judicial decisions.

The whole “allow his sexual orientation to influence his judicial decisions” argument is, by far, the most unfair argument made by these anti-gay bigots whenever we talk about gay judges. Because nobody EVER questions whether heterosexual judges allow their sexual orientation to influence their judicial decisions. It’s difficult to even imagine what would constitute not letting one’s sexual orientation influence any judicial decision besides gay marriage, but nobody ever asks if heterosexual judges can judge gay marriage fairly without ever experiencing same-sex love.

I’d like to see it, though: “Hey, before you get to judge or vote on gay marriage, you have to give a man a reach around. Fair is fair.” But, of course, I don’t think what a judge does in his bedroom impacts his ability to determine if an entire group of people should be allowed a basic civil right.

And, more importantly, while fear mongers like this Robert Marshall guy are are quick to question whether gay people will allow being gay to influence their decisions, they never want to ask if a person’s religious beliefs will inappropriately influence their judicial decision making. Well, check that, they’re quick to worry about a nominee’s religious beliefs if the nominee is Muslim or Jewish or something. But when judges and lawmakers act out of their literal belief in some story written in the Bible, that’s called having “values.”

But hey, if we started talking about the rank hypocrisy of using religious views to justify secular discrimination, we’d be here all day. Let’s return to the fact that these Virginia House Delegates voted against a man because of his sexual orientation, and nothing more:

Thorne-Begland was the only one of more than three dozen judicial nominees — including 10 others from the Richmond region — who was not elected to a judgeship following a marathon legislative session dominated by review of amendments to the two-year state budget proposed by Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Are you kidding me? You voted through three dozen people, and the only one you reject is the gay guy because he’s gay? Jesus Virginia, check your fly, your raging hard-on to screw gay people is making me uncomfortable.

Republicans cast the 31 votes against Thorne-Begland. Ten Republican delegates abstained and 26 delegates, including a handful of Democrats, did not vote. Eight Republicans voted for Thorne-Begland.

The 36 people who abstained or didn’t vote are perhaps the worst of the worst. I might think the people who voted against Thorne-Begland are misguided bigots, but “say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, dude, at least it’s an ethos.” If you are one of the people who just stood by and watched this man get discriminated against for no reason except his sexual orientation and you did nothing, you’re not only wrong, but also a coward.

What happened to Thorne-Begland is not okay. He was denied a job because of his sexual orientation. That’s textbook discrimination.

But in America right now, the only people you’re allowed to openly discriminate against are openly gay people. This election cycle, it’s been pretty frightening to see just how many Americans are cool with that.

House rejects Thorne-Begland for judgeship as social conservatives prevail [Richmond-Times Dispatch]

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