Virginia delegate Bob Marshall, who helped orchestrate the defeat of gay judicial nominee Tracy Thorne-Begland this week, explained his opposition by saying, “Sodomy is not a civil right.”
Talking Points Memo reports that Marshall, who is running for U.S. Senate, appeared on CNN Thursday morning to talk about the failed nomination. Thorne-Begland was under consideration to be the first openly gay judge in the state, but according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, his appointment was scuttled by a “late-hour lobbying offensive by social conservatives.”
The House of Delegates voted 33-31 for Thorne-Begland, whose appointment required 51 votes. All 31 Republicans voted against the nominee.
In the clip below, Marshall suggests to host Brooke Baldwin that the Richmond prosecutor would be an “activist” judge. He drew a connection to Judge Vaughn Walker, who ruled against Proposition 8 in a federal case in California and later came out as gay. Marshall also criticized Thorne-Begland, who served in the Navy but came out 20 years ago, for lying to the military about his sexuality.
“He could preside as a district judge for a marriage of two guys if he wanted to in violation of the law,” said Marshall. “Remember, it was a single judge in California who was in a same-sex relationship who invalidated 7 million votes out there. Moreover, if you have a barroom fight between a homosexual and a heterosexual, I am concerned about possible bias,” he said.
According to TPM, Baldwin pressed Marshall on whether his opposition was not simply rooted in the fact that Thorne-Begland is gay.
“Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks never took an oath of office they broke,” said Marshall. “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.”
Contrary to the statement from Marshall, same-sex sexual activity is legal in the United States. The Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence v. Texas in 2003 that anti-sodomy laws were unconstitutional. However, according to an Equality Matters report last year, Virignia is one of 18 states that still have antisodomy laws on their books.