Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall has a history of opposing gay rights. Last year, he even said that homosexuality “undermines the American economy.” Marshall never explained how that happens.
Marshall is back with more homophobia this year as he challenged the nomination of Richmond prosecutor Tracy Thorne-Begland to be a state judge. Marshall believes that Thorne-Begland is unqualified because he is gay.
“I don’t even think it’s proper to put his name forward because of his behavior,” said Marshall.
Virginia did put Thorne-Begland’s name forward with 40 other judicial nominees. Sadly, he was voted down 33-31 with 10 abstentions. That there were so many abstentions points to highly volatile nature of gay politics in America. However, the denial of confirming Thorne-Begland as a judge solely because he is gay is a travesty. Thorne-Begland served honorably in the Navy. He did acquire a reputation as a gay activist. That seems to have generated the strong opposition to his nomination. If he had been quiet and gay, then he might have been confirmed.
Governor Bob McDonnell, not necessarily a friend of gay rights, expressed dissatisfaction with determining a judge’s qualification based on his sexual orientation:
“All I can tell you is what I’ve always said about judges and that is that these ought to be merit based selections solely based on a persons, skill ability, fairness, judicial temperament. Issues of race, sex, sexual-orientation, wealth, “none” of those things should be factors in whether or not you put somebody on the bench.”
Marshall’s argument to deny Thorne-Begland the judgeship was completely the opposite.
“We have a constitution which says marriage is between one man and one woman and if he’s taking an oath, he has to uphold and defend that as a judge. If his lifestyle is exactly contrary to that…I don’t see how he could do that.”
That sounds like a workable argument until taking the commonsense approach that judges are confirmed all around the country while espousing views that may run counter to a constitution. Abortion has been confirmed as legal under the Constitution, but Republican presidents routinely determine a judge’s views on abortion before appointing them to the U.S. Supreme Court. There probably isn’t a single person in this country who agrees with everything in the Constitution or wants nothing to be changed about it. Following Marshall’s logic, it would be nearly impossible to find a judge qualified to serve.