social sciences
special features
about glbtq

Advertising Opportunities
Press Kit
Research Guide
Terms of Service
Privacy Policy
site guide
search tips
research guide
editors & contributors
contact us
send feedback
write the editor
Subscribe to our free e-mail newsletter to receive a spotlight on glbtq culture every month.
e-mail address:
Popular Topics in The Arts
Drag Shows: Drag Queens and Female Impersonators Drag Shows: Drag Queens and Female Impersonators
Female impersonation need say nothing about sexual identity, but it has for a long time been almost an institutionalized aspect of gay male culture.
Photography: Gay Male, Pre-Stonewall Photography: Gay Male, Pre-Stonewall
Although sparse in images documenting the gay community, pre-Stonewall gay male photography blurs the boundaries between art, erotica, and social history.
Erotic and Pornographic Art: Gay Male Erotic and Pornographic Art: Gay Male
Given the historic stigma around making, circulating, and possessing overtly homoerotic images, the visual arts have been especially important for providing a socially sanctioned arena for depicting the naked male body and suggesting homoerotic desire.
New Queer Cinema
Independent films that aggressively assert homosexual identity and queer culture, the New Queer Cinema can be seen as the culmination of several developments in American cinema.
White, Minor
Renowned photographer, teacher, critic, editor, and curator, Minor White created some of the most interesting photographs of male nudes of the second half of the twentieth century, but did not exhibit them for fear of scandal.
Halston (Roy Halston Frowick)
The first international fashion superstar, Halston dressed and befriended some of America's most glamorous women.
Surrealism Surrealism
An artistic movement that grew out of Dadaism and flourished in Europe shortly after World War I, Surrealism embraced the idea that art was an expression of the subconscious.
Winfield, Paul
Film, stage, and television actor Paul Winfield was openly gay in his private life, but maintained public silence about his homosexuality.
Topics In the News
Tracy Thorne-Begland Appointed Judge in Virginia
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 06/14/12
Last updated on: 06/14/12
Bookmark and Share

Tracy Thorne-Begland in 2009.

On June 14, 2012, just weeks after Virginia's General Assembly rejected his nomination, Circuit Court judges have appointed Tracy Thorne-Begland to a Richmond District Court. As Laura Vozella reports in the Washington Post, the appointment is temporary, lasting only until the next General Assembly session, and is likely to reopen the debate over openly gay judges that was sparked by the rejection of Thorne-Begland's nomination a month ago.

In May, the House of Delegates overwhelmingly rejected Thorne-Begland's nomination after intense lobbying from right-wing and anti-gay groups. He needed 51 votes in the House to be confirmed, but received only 33.

The rejection was a surprise since Thorne-Begland had strong bipartisan support, and was supported unanimously by the Richmond delegation.

In the debate on the House floor, Thorne-Begland, an openly gay prosecutor who was discharged as a Naval officer twenty years ago and who spoke out against the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, was subjected to outrageous abuse by legislators, who accused him of military insubordination and who mocked his marriage.

As a 25-year-old Annapolis graduate, Thorne-Begland had an exemplary record as a Navy Lieutenant and pilot when he spoke out against the ban on gay servicemembers and, later, the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. He was the first officer to voluntarily out himself as a protest against the discriminatory regulations.

After spending some time working with the Human Rights Campaign, Thorne-Begland earned his law degree at the University of Richmond in 1997. He has served on the board of Equality Virginia. He and his husband are parents of twins.

The biggest yahoo in the Virginia House of Delegates, Robert G. Marshall, insultingly said Thorne-Begland's "life is a contradiction to the requirement of submission to the constitution."

The rejection of the eminently qualified prosecutor created a firestorm in the national media because it was such an blatant instance of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Mike Herring, Commonwealth Attorney for Richmond, said of Thorne-Begland at the time, "He's an outstanding lawyer and he would have been just as good a judge, and I can't imagine any reason for his rejection other than his sexual orientation."

Perhaps because of the national media attention, some Delegates who voted against the nominee began to reconsider.

For example, a Republican delegate, Richard Morris, said he had researched the matter after voting against Thorne-Begland's appointment in May. "My initial opposition to Mr. Thorne-Begland had nothing to do with his sexual orientation but was based on the belief that Mr. Thorne-Begland went on national television in his Navy uniform and spoke against standing Navy policy which would be a violation of Navy regulations and a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) because of the prohibition of being in uniform," Morris said. When he discovered that in fact Thorne-Begland did not appear in uniform, he withdrew his opposition.

Earlier this week, leaders of Richmond's five largest law firms urged the city's Circuit Court judges to appoint Thorne-Begland to the bench, though their appointment can only be an interim appointment, lasting only until the General Assembly reconvenes.

Upon news that the Circuit Court judges had indeed appointed Thorne-Begland, Delegate Marshall reacted angrily: "I think it's highly imprudent and arrogant on their part," said Marshall. "I hope Virginia understands what's going on here: They're contesting the authority of the General Assembly here. . . . This is an act of defiance on their part. When appointed officials get in fights with elected officials, they invariably lose."

In contrast, Senator A. Donald McEachin issued a statement supporting the judges' decision: "I applaud the circuit court judges for recognizing Mr. Thorne-Begland's skill, qualifications and competency and putting aside bigotry, prejudice and false excuses I have always had and continue to have the utmost confidence in Mr. Thorne-Begland's ability to serve our community and I am gratified to see that the circuit court judges share my confidence."

In the video below, Tracy Thorne-Begland speaks at a memorial for Leonard Matlovich during the National Equality March of 2009.

In the video below, Delegate Jennifer McClellan speaks in favor of Thorne-Begland's appointment to a judgeship.

Related Encyclopedia Entries
browse:   arts   literature   social-sciences   discussion boards
learn more about glbtq       contact us       advertise on glbtq.com
Bookmark and Share

glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2015, glbtq, Inc.

Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.