As a child growing up, there was a sampler in one of the rooms in our house:
"To be a Virginian/By birth, marriage, or even on one's mother's side/Is an invitation to any state in the Union, a passport to any country, and a benediction from the Almighty God."
I have always been inordinately proud to be a Virginian and a Richmonder. There are dark chapters in our history, as there are for any person or place. But there is so much to be proud of: the first permanent settlement in the "New World," the "Birthplace of Presidents," the Palladian architecture of the State Capitol and Monticello, the University of Virginia, beautiful country from mountain to sea. Never before have I been less than proud of my Commonwealth. Not until today.
Today, an honorable man, an esteemed and decorated lawyer, and a gifted prosecutor who has served this Country, this Commonwealth, and this City, was denied appointment as a judge because he is openly gay. Tracy Thorne-Begland deserved better than that. The people of this City deserved better than that. The citizens of the Commonwealth deserved better than that.
I have the privilege of knowing Tracy Thorne-Begland. Tracy was a classmate in law school and I consider both him and his partner, Michael, to be friends. I know exactly how gifted a prosecutor he is. I know exactly how good a man he is. His sexual orientation should be irrelevant to any evaluation of his fitness to serve and uphold the laws of the Commonwealth.
People will want to say I must be a Democrat, and the Democrats have an agenda. If forced to self-identify with a political party, I have called myself a Republican for the last 20 years, although I have generally held my nose while I did so. I believe in smaller federal government, one limited to those powers enumerated to it in the Constitution. All other responsibilities rightfully belong to the states. I believe in fiscal discipline and a strong defense. And I believe who someone loves has no bearing on one's ability to sit the bench and administer the laws of the Commonwealth dispassionately and fairly.
Today, I am not proud to be a Virginian. Today, I am ashamed.