"If His Lifestyle is Exactly Contrary to That..."

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 15 2012 3:27 PM

"If His Lifestyle is Exactly Contrary to That..."

Virginia's Republican-dominated House of Delegates shot down the judicial nomination of openly gay prosecutor Tracy Thorne-Begland. ThinkProgress points to evidence that the Republicans, led by Del. Bob Marshall, voted "no" because Thorne-Begland was gay. The site didn't quote all of Marshall's statement, so I clicked over to find it, assuming that Marshall might have given himself more wiggle room.

There was widespread doubt in the General Assembly as to whether this candidate could swear the oath required of Virginia’s judges to abide by Virginia’s Constitution since he profoundly disagrees with the Virginia Marriage Amendment “that only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth.”
In 2006, when Virginians overwhelmingly amended our Virginia Constitution to add the Virginia Marriage Amendment defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman, that amendment became the law of the land.  But this applicant does not accept the authority of the people in whom are vested the sole power to amend our Virginia Constitution, as he holds himself out to be married to a person of his own sex.

This is a perfectly rational reaction, isn't it? Thorne-Begland was discharged from the Navy after he came out. He openly opposed Don't Ask Don't Tell. Marshall doesn't present any evidence that Thorne-Begland was going to repeal gay marriage. But he had a hunch. And so he invokes the supremacy of the voter over the judicial branch, which is probably in some Thomas Jefferson letter to Madison that we're not sophisticated enough to know about.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


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