I don’t know why he called me back. Either he had the time to waste, or he felt the need to waste my time, which could have been better spent in Bible study: So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. –Psalm 90:12 KJV
Here’s how the conversation went when I contacted self-described “Virginia’s chief homophobe” Delegate Robert G. Marshall (R-13) to discuss the Equality Virginia candidate survey.
[Me] Hi, I’m Jonathan Weintraub from Equality Loudoun. I’d like to interview you on GLBT issues and publish the results on our web site.
[Bob Marshall] I probably won’t satisfy you, Jonathan.
[Me] Are you willing to sit down for an hour interview?
[Bob Marshall] No, I’m not.
[Me] Thank you.
That was good enough for me – but not, apparently, for Delegate Marshall. He called me back five minutes later:
[Bob Marshall] Jonathan, surely you know my views. Why do you want to interview me?
[Me] Bob, I have a list of all the candidates. I contacted every candidate on the list. It was a mechanical exercise.
[Bob Marshall] Jonathan, you have been writing about me on Equality Loudoun. You know my views.
[Me] Bob, people change. They get older, and hopefully they get wiser.
[Bob Marshall] Wiser? Surely you don’t expect me to change my views about homosexual behavior.
[Me] We are talking about people.
[R. Marshall] People engage in behavior…
[Me] Bob, you can accept or decline the interview. Let’s not waste each other’s time.
I had to interrupt his belligerence with a second observation that this was a waste of time before we could mutually end the call.
Equality Loudoun’s motivations are pretty transparent. We were doing what every other issues advocacy group does at election time; no surprises there. Why, then, was Mr. Marshall compelled to call back? Was he angered by the assumption that he could have experienced some personal growth and might have something new to say? Perhaps he was outraged by the fact that, after all the time and energy he has invested in demonizing our community, we are still willing to sit down and talk to him. It must be infuriating that we continue to insist that we are human beings (not “behaviors”), and that we haven’t gone away. What he wants is for us to meekly accept his belief that we shouldn’t exist as permanent and unchangeable: “You know my views.” How rude and uncooperative of us to imply that even Bob ‘Virginia’s Chief Homophobe’ Marshall is capable of learning and repentance.
As odd as it sounds, the fact that he had such an emotional reaction to our refusal to write him off as hopeless is a positive sign – it suggests that he feels shame. That’s a start.