Virginia Delegate and Republican Senate candidate Bob Marshall, who led the battle against the judicial nomination of an openly gay Richmond prosecutor, appeared on CNN Thursday and defended his position, saying, among other arguments, that “sodomy is not a civil right” and that he was worried how a gay judge would rule in the case of a “bar room fight between a homosexual and heterosexual.”
Virginia’s House of Delegates defeated the nomination of Tracy Thorne-Begland earlier this week, after what The Richmond Times-Dispatch called a “late-hour lobbying offensive by social conservatives.” Thorne-Begland would have been the first openly gay judge elected in Virginia.
In his CNN appearance, Marshall criticized Thorne-Begland, a former Naval officer who came out as gay 20 years ago, for lying about his sexuality to the military.
“He displayed a pattern of behavior that was inconsistent with what we have come to expect in Virginia judges,” Marshall said. “We’ve never appointed an activist of any kind along these lines, much less somebody who has a long history of this.”
“Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks never took an oath of office they broke,” Marshall said, in response to a question from host Brooke Baldwin. “Sodomy is not a civil right, it’s not the same as the civil rights movement. You have to look at the past. In late 2011, he was critical of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ He criticized our attorney general simply for explaining what the law of Virginia is with respect to certain protected classes. So, he has gone beyond that. He can be a prosecutor, if he wants to. We don’t want advocates as judges.”
Baldwin then asked: “You bring up sodomy. Is the reason why you voted against him because he’s gay, pure and simple?”
“No. Sorry, you’re mischaracterizing that,” Marshall said. “I said sodomy is not a civil right and there’s an effort by homosexual lobbyists to equate the two. That’s wrong.”
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com