Little Bobby Marshall’s temper tantrum

Crossposted at Equality Loudoun

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.

6 thoughts on “Little Bobby Marshall’s temper tantrum

  1. Stevens Miller

    “…a contradiction to the requirement of submission to the constitution.”

    Man, that’s some choice of words from a guy who holds the record for submitting bills designed to ignore the Supremacy Clause.

  2. Epluribusunum Post author

    When Bob Marshall was admitted to the bar, didn’t he take an oath to uphold the Constitution?

    His pattern of sneering at settled law he doesn’t like couldn’t be more clear than in his remark the other day that “sodomy” isn’t a civil right. I doubt that he could have missed the news that the SCOTUS has determined that it is, so he must simply be saying that he rejects the court’s authority.

    Isn’t he renouncing the oath he presumably took? Why shouldn’t he be disbarred?

  3. Tom Burriss

    Bad Judgment: Not the Stuff of Would-be Judges
     
    A key function of the General Assembly is to elect judges.  Unlike other states, this task falls squarely on the shoulders of the General Assembly and we must select judges of the highest character and ability.  If either condition is lacking, we must ask “is this candidate worthy of selection?”
    Such was the case on Monday, May 14th, when the House of Delegates chose not to elect Richmond prosecutor Tracy Thorne-Begland as a District Court Judge.  Advocates for Mr. Thorne-Begland point to his prosecutorial abilities, however, they ignore that as a naval officer in 1992, he violated clear military directives not to appear on television to advocate for a personal cause.  Nevertheless, Mr. Thorne-Begland made that appearance, ignoring the requirements of duty that he voluntarily took an oath to uphold.  We contend that Mr. Thorne-Begland exercised profoundly bad judgment in using his military office to advance a personal cause, in this case sexual orientation, on national television; an act he knew was prohibited.  
    Let’s begin with the oath those of us who served the nation in war and peace took when we were commissioned.  “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.”  A key word here is “duties” and among them are fidelity to rules and regulations of the military and support for the chain of command.  When an officer violates this fidelity for a personal cause, no matter how sincerely held, he has broken his trust with the service he has sworn to obey.  An officer who does so demonstrates exceptionally bad judgment.  Those who don’t think that oaths, discipline, and fidelity to the chain of command matter, fail to comprehend how the military must function if it is to be effective in combat, which is it’s raison d’être.  It may be difficult for someone who has not served to understand the depth to which we hold this oath, but it is profound.
    An officer shirks his duty when he willingly and knowingly violates a lawful directive of the military and his chain of command by appearing in the media to advocate for a personal cause he believes is more important than the oath he took.  The prohibition to “participate in any radio, television, or other program or group discussion as an advocate for or against a partisan political party, candidate, or cause” is unambiguous, yet Mr. Thorne-Begland violated it knowingly.  Some say, “Well, what about his First Amendment right to free speech?”  Simply put, when you join the military, you give up your right to free speech when it comes to good order and discipline.  You can’t say anything you want about any cause, no matter how deeply held, when, in doing so, you speak publicly in contravention to the policies of your service.  You can be sure that many of us who have served this nation have had times when we didn’t agree with our chain of command and in some cases may have felt the orders and requirements were misguided.  But no matter what side of an issue you take, you do not, as a military member, have the right to speak publicly against your service and chain of command to advance your personal beliefs.
    A case in point was the recent discharge of a young Marine sergeant who made disparaging comments about President Barack Obama, his Commander-in-Chief.  That sergeant may have felt, as Thorne-Begland did, that he was right in speaking out, but that Marine was wrong to do so and should have been discharged, as he was.  And if he ever becomes a lawyer, moves to Virginia, and seeks a judgeship, he shouldn’t be surprised when we don’t support him either.  In both cases, the proper course of action would have been to resign from the service, hang up the uniform, put on civilian garb, and speak to your heart’s content.    
    In the military, we take oaths, duty, good order and discipline very seriously because we know the important role they play in creating an effective fighting force.  We think no less of these values when selecting judges.  If you exhibit bad judgment and indiscipline, you shouldn’t be a judge. Mr. Thorne-Begland’s decision to go on national television to advocate for a personal cause in violation of his sworn duties to his service indicates poor judgment and a lack of regard for the institution he swore to serve and respect.  These aren’t the qualities we seek in a jurist.  
     
    Delegate (Colonel) Rich Anderson (R-51 and US Air Force Retired), Delegate (Commander) Mark Cole (R-88 and USNR Retired), Delegate (Lt. Commander) John Cosgrove (R-78 and USNR, Delegate (Colonel) Mark Dudenhefer (R-2 and US Marine Corps Retired, Delegate (Sergeant) Tim Hugo (R-40 and US Army Reserve), Delegate (Colonel) L. Scott Lingamfelter (R-31 and US Army Retired) and Delegate (Commander) Chris Stolle (R-83 and US Navy, Retired) all serve in the Virginia House of Delegates of the General Assembly.

  4. Epluribusunum Post author

    Yes, the tantrum continues on the pages of the Virginia Pilot. Notice that these gentleman have quoted the following:

    “The prohibition to ‘participate in any radio, television, or other program or group discussion as an advocate for or against a partisan political party, candidate, or cause’ is unambiguous..”

    Yes, it is unambiguous. It unambiguously says “partisan.” Obviously, Thorne-Begland didn’t engage in partisan advocacy. This excuse for their votes doesn’t pass the laugh test.

  5. Stevens Miller

    Slam-dunk, Eplurb. And a shame that it once again reveals that, to minds like theirs, the defense of civil rights is a partisan cause.

    Also, since we are going back to 1992, and overlooking the intervening two decades of professional history, let’s just see what the Navy itself had to say:

    The board finds that Lieutenant (jg) Thorne has stated that he is a homosexual, and is a homosexual by a vote of 3 to 0.

    It is the recommendation of the board, by a vote of 3 to 0, that Lieutenant (jg) Thorne has failed to show cause for retention in the naval service, and that he
    be separated.

    Based on the reasons, the evidence presented, the overall record of service, and consistent with enclosure (5) to SECNAV Instruction 1920.6A, Change 1, the board recommends, by a vote of 3 to 0, that this separation be characterized as honorable.

    So the Navy did not find that he was an officer who “willingly and knowingly violate[d] a lawful directive of the military and his chain of command by appearing in the media to advocate for a personal cause he believes is more important than the oath he took.” They found that, like he said himself, he was gay.

    Well, in 1992, the Navy had a bad attitude about that, so I guess it still counts, kind of. Can’t have someone the Navy finds dishonorable becoming a judge 20 years later, right?

    Oh, wait… that discharge _was_ honorable, wasn’t it?

    So what they’re saying is… the Navy was wrong? Mr. Thorne-Smith was dishonorable?

    Seems like all those delegates have some apologies to make for their lack of “fidelity to rules and regulations of the military and support for the chain of command,” themselves.

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