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Posted May 16, 2012 | comments Leave a comment

McDonnell: Votes against Thorne-Begland for homosexuality 'unacceptable'

By Jeb Inge -- jinge@nvdaily.com

President Obama might be lauded as the nation's first "gay president," but Gov. Robert F. McDonnell is making waves of his own here in Virginia.

McDonnell (R) issued remarks Tuesday in response to the rejection of Tracy Thorne-Begland for a General District Court judgeship. Thorne-Begland came under fire late last week from conservatives in Virginia, who feared his homosexuality would play a role in biasing his rulings from the bench.

"In my consideration of judicial candidates I only consider the individual's ability to do the job well. If anyone voted against Mr. Thorne-Begland because of his sexual orientation that would be very disappointing and unacceptable," McDonnell said in a statement.

While McDonnell stressed that the power of judicial appointment lies with the General Assembly, he made it clear that discrimination based on sexual orientation was not a part of his personal appointment philosophy.

"I have long made clear that discrimination on the basis of such factors as race, religion or sexual orientation is not acceptable in any judicial appointment process," McDonnell said.

The push against Thorne-Begland, led largely by Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William) and Virginia conservative-advocacy group The Family Foundation, successfully derailed his judicial appointment in the General Assembly.

The crux of their argument: That Thorne-Begland's sexual orientation would influence his rulings on the bench.

His rejection came during the same session which successfully nominated former Warren County delegate C.L. "Clay" Athey Jr. who was outspoken on gun rights, and former Southside Democratic delegate Clarence E. "Bud" Phillips, who was outspoken on organized labor.

Follow Jeb Inge on Twitter at @NVD_vapolitics

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