If the Virginia House of Delegates’ rejection of an eminently qualified military veteran and state prosecutor’s appointment to the Virginia judiciary wasn’t embarrassing enough, the refusal of eight Delegates who were present to even cast a vote was an act of cowardice. Among the eight were Loudoun Republican Delegates Randy Minchew (R-10) and Joe May (R-33).
As reported by Andy Jenks of NBC-12 in Richmond (http://www.nbc12.com/story/18439558/nbc12-investigates-why-did-36-delegates-not-vote-on-gay-judge-nominee), and expanded on by prominent Virginia blogger Waldo Jaquith, 26 Delegates were recorded as “Not Voting” on Tracy Thorne-Begland’s nomination. Twenty-three seconds later, a vote was held on the next judicial nominee, and eight of the Delegates who were recorded as “Not Voting” on the Thorne-Begland nomination, cast a vote. Two of those Delegates who were present for the vote immediately after the vote on Mr. Thorne-Begland, as well as the vote held immediately before, were Loudoun Republican Delegates Joe May and Randy Minchew. And we mean immediately, as there was less than a minute between the votes, as documented by Waldo Jaquith. (http://waldo.jaquith.org/blog/2012/05/thorne-begland-tally/)
“At least Delegates Greason and Ramadan had the courage to stand with Bob Marshall and the religious right who opposed Mr. Thorne-Begland on the basis of his sexual orientation,” said LCDC Chair Evan Macbeth. “It is galling that Delegates Minchew and May sat on their hands and refused to take a position on a perfectly qualified judicial nominee for fear of retribution from their political base. The voters of Loudoun County elected them to do a job and vote in the House of Delegates. If Delegates Minchew and May lack the courage to vote their convictions, perhaps it’s time for Loudoun to send two new Delegates to Richmond who will.”
Del. Michew’s failure to vote is especially glaring considering he is on record as supporting Mr. Thorne-Begland’s nomination in the House Courts of Justice Committee. However, once the Family Foundation and other groups on the religious right began to target Mr. Thorne-Begland, it appears that Minchew caved to the radical views of his party’s base. Del. Minchew, in an email to constituents attempting to justify his non-vote, claimed that the testimony of his “veteran colleagues” against Mr. Thorne-Begland went unrebutted. This is only true because Republicans cut off debate before many of Mr. Thorne-Begland’s supporters had the opportunity to be heard. It is also a clear cop-out, considering Minchew goes on to praise Mr. Thorne-Begland’s qualifications and work as a prosecutor later in the same paragraph.
It is reasonable to conclude that Del. Michew is only capable of making tough choices when no one is watching. When the spotlight was on, he shrank rather than go on the record and stand up for a qualified and distinguished public servant who just happens to be gay.