My initial reaction to hearing about Bob Marshall’s highly unusual actions to cause the rejection of Tracy Thorne-Begland’s nomination to the General District Court was “petulant temper tantrum.” The latest admission from Marshall shows just how accurate that first impression was:
“He holds himself out as being married,” said Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William), who is running for U.S. Senate. He said Thorne-Begland’s “life is a contradiction to the requirement of submission to the constitution.”
It’s not good enough, you see, that Thorne-Begland’s marriage is not recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Nor is it good enough that he and his husband can’t even obtain recognition of a civil union, domestic partnership, or any other “legal status that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage” or obtain a status to which are assigned “the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.”
No, that’s not enough. Like Haman, little Bobby Marshall wants Tracy Thorne-Begland to bow down. Because Bobby Marshall was able to insert his tiny god of fear into the Virginia Constitution, he now believes he is entitled to demand “submission” to it. Those who fail to bow down to his little god must be punished. That is just how stark this is.
Republican activist and attorney Brian Schoeneman hits the nail on the head:
The argument that Marshall makes that questions Thorne-Begland’s integrity and claims he couldn’t take the oath to support the Virginia Constitution is, quite frankly, disgusting. Not only has Thorne-Begland already taken that oath as an attorney and in his official capacity as a deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney, there is nothing in his background to indicate he has ever violated it. Advocacy against laws one disagrees with isn’t violating an oath – it’s something inherently American and something we Republicans have long valued.
And exposes the sheer hypocrisy, given that other nominees had engaged in outspoken advocacy on other matters, from the Second Amendment to labor rights:
The fact that Thorne-Begland was discharged from the Navy for being gay is irrelevant. He believed that his rights were being trampled upon and spoke up, going to court to defend them. There is nothing wrong with that. This is the exact same behavior we Republicans praised when Dick Heller and the other second amendment activists filed suit to overturn DC’s unconstitutional gun laws. We praise activism in defense of rights, especially where someone gives up so much for the fight. In the Heller case, Dick Heller didn’t have to get arrested or lose his job – he simply had to apply for a permit and be denied.
These are actual conservative values, not the spiteful Thought Police mewlings of Marshall and his little band of sycophants, who are even now being pitifully defended with the argument “you can’t prove they voted no because they agreed with Marshall.”
Meanwhile, I have news for little Bobby: I’m married, too, to the love of my life. A lot of us are. There isn’t a thing you can do about it. The harder you try, the more ridiculous and embarrassing and marginalized you and those like you will become.
We knew this a long time ago, and now you know it, too:
What Marshall, Gallagher, and other architects of current constitutional mischief are well aware of is that anti-gay bias will in the future become as socially unacceptable as racism. As Gallagher puts it, “..we don’t arrest people for being racists, but the law does intervene in powerful ways to punish and discourage racial discrimination, not only by government but also by private entities.”
They also are well aware that what will drive these shifts in public opinion is the ability of the public to observe for themselves the humanity of their GLBT neighbors and our families. That is, in a nutshell, the “gay agenda”: To be seen as who we are.
The carefully crafted language of the Marshall/Newman amendment is designed to discourage this visibility as much as possible, by making it too risky to be honest about our committed life partnerships. The very thing that demonstrates our humanity and family values is also the thing that demonstrates our “intent to approximate” the rights, obligations and significance of marriage: Making the statement before friends, family, the community, and the universe that this is my beloved, this is my family.
Thank you, Mr. Marshall, for openly admitting that your amendment is not really about marriage, but in fact is intended to discourage GLBT people from living lives of honesty and integrity. It’s actually very clever. It also ultimately will fail.