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Richmond attorneys express support of Tracy Thorne-Begland

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--Several prominent Richmond attorneys are supporting a judicial appointment for an openly gay Richmond prosecutor, and have written to the presiding judge of the general district court.

Earlier this year, Tracy Thorne-Begland's nomination for an appointment as a district court judge was rejected by the General Assembly.

Thorne-Begland was criticized for his gay rights activism. Del. Bob Marshall (R -Manassas) wanted Thorne-Begland, who is openly gay, removed from consideration because of the prosecutor’s past involvement with the gay rights movement, most notably his network interview about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” [COMPLETE COVERAGE: Openly gay prosecutor denied judgeship]

The former naval aviator challenged the military's policy by announcing his sexual orientation on a network interview in 1992, about the time that Bill Clinton had mentioned doing away with the policy.

But Thorne-Begland’s supporters said it was because of his sexual orientation. “It is hard to think about what happened at the General Assembly and not conclude that it is a form of bigotry,” said Herring during a news conference after the vote. “Anytime my elected officials exercise in behavior that is bigoted, it embarrasses me.”

Now five Richmond attorneys from some of the cities largest law firms sent a letter supporting Thorne-Begland appointment to the presiding judge over the district court.

Thorne-Begland received bi-partisan support in the General Assembly, but could not muster the 51 votes needed in the House of Delegates to be elected. Lawmakers voted down Begland’s nomination 33-31 with 10 abstentions. He needed 51 votes.