Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Is Bob Marshall Fit to Serve in U.S. Senate?

As many know there is an open senate seat in Virginia due to the retirement of Senator Jim Webb.  Four republicans are vying for the GOP nomination to go up against Tim Kaine, our former governor and former head of the DNC.  One of the republicans that is looking for the nod is Delegate Bob Marshall.  

Very early yesterday morning (I mean really early, 1:30 AM) the Virginia House of Delegates took some votes for judgeships as the final act of this years activity for the legislator.  Most of the judges sailed right through.  Except for one, the appointment of Tracy Thorne-Begland has been denied a seat on the Virginia court.  Thorne-Begland is a former Navy, currently a prosecutor in the Richmond area, and gay.  

He served in the military before President Clinton enacted the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy.  Thorne-Begland was honorably discharged from the Navy after he questioned the policy of not allowing gays to serve.  Honorably discharged.  The Navy had no choice at the time to release him from the service as the law was clear, gay people were not allowed to serve.  But, he was not stripped of his rank or given a dishonorable discharge.  Which the Navy would have been able to do had they wanted to at the time.  

Bob Marshall never questioned the qualifications of Thorne-Begland, he only hammered home the fact that Thorne-Begland was a "homosexual activist".  There was no other questioning of his qualifications other than being against the now defunct ban on gays in the military.  Nothing about his record as a prosecutor.  Since it never came up, one would can easily assume that his record is a good one.  Marshall questioned whether he can uphold the Virginia's Constitution since our law states that marriage is between one man and one woman.  That alone is what disqualified him from the seat on the bench.  He has already taken this oath as a prosecutor.  There is nothing in his prosecutorial record to suggest that he has not upheld his oath.  

One of the biggest problems with this argument is that the court Thorne-Begland would have been serving on would not be answering questions on this issue.  It is not a court of record.  Meaning that if the decision is appealed, the case is then heard at the next level as it never been heard before.  Any decision that is made at this level will have no record.  There will be no opinion put in writing. How exactly could one be a "judicial activist" at this level?  It would seem to me that Bob Marshall simply doesn't like gay people.  Which is fine, he is entitled to his opinion.  

But the question has to be asked, can Bob Marshall serve in the U.S. Senate when it is clear that he  is willing to discriminate against people simply based on what they do in their bedroom?  Mr. Thorne-Begland isn't running around the country being an activist, which then would question his impartiality. He is in Richmond, doing his job and raising a family.  You can disapprove of his "lifestyle" all you want, but do you get to say that someone shouldn't have a job that they are otherwise qualified for simply based on sexuality?  That is exactly what Delegate Marshall did.  

Bob Marshall is not fit to serve in the U.S. Senate if he is this willing to discriminate against someone due to a private and very personal matter.  Thorne-Begland deserved a fair hearing for his qualifications for the position.  Not the witch hunt that Delegate Marshall allowed the proceeding to turn into.  One of the judgeships that sailed through easily was a former delegate who comes from a family of union activists.  It seems pretty clear that the only thing Thorne-Begland has against him is what he does in his bedroom.  Shame on Delegate Marshall.  Not only do I hope that you don't get the nod for the GOP nomination for the senate seat, I hope that your district wakes up and sends you packing when it comes time for your re-election to the House of Delegates in November of 2013.  So thanks Delegate Marshall for making all Virginia republicans look as intolerant as you are.  

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