A Virginia lawmaker who recently led the fight to block an openly gay man from becoming a judge General District Court judge in Richmond insisted on Thursday that the move had nothing to do with nominee's sexual orientation, but he was concerned about "bias" in cases between "a homosexual and heterosexual."
During an interview on CNN with Republican Virginia state delegate Robert Marshall, host Brooke Baldwin compared the struggle for LGBT rights to discrimination against African Americans and asked the lawmaker why he voted to block Richmond prosecutor Tracy Thorne-Begland from becoming a judge in a misdemeanor court.
"Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks never took an oath of office that they broke," Marshall explained, claiming that Thorne-Begland lied about his sexuality to join that military in the late 1980s.
"Sodomy is not a civil right. It's not the same as a civil rights movement," Marshall insisted.
"You bring up sodomy," the shocked CNN host noted. "Is the reason why you voted against him because he's gay, pure and simple?"
"Sorry, you're mischaracterizing that," Marshall replied. "I said sodomy is not a civil right, and there's an effort by homosexual lobbyists to equate the two. That's wrong. It's a pattern of behavior."
"From what I understand, this would have been a misdemeanor court," Baldwin countered. "In fact, one of your own Republican colleagues there in the House sponsoring his nomination, sponsoring Thorne-Beglan's nomination said this -- quote -- 'It is without question that Thorne-Beglan is extremely qualified.' The type of issues, social issues that would touch upon someone's constitutional interpretation, these things do not even come up in district court. Still, you feel that he would be unqualified to sit on that bench?"
"We don't accept everybody who is nominated. Moreover, he would preside -- he could preside as a district judge for a marriage of two guys if he wanted to, in violation of the law," Marshall opined. "Moreover, if you have a bar-room fight between a homosexual and heterosexual, I'm concerned about possible bias."
"Why would a homosexual - why would a gay person be more likely to be biased in the bar room example than say, you would?" CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill wondered. "I mean, to be quite frank, I would be more concerned you would be biased against the gay or lesbian person in that case."
"I wouldn't apply to be a judge," Marshall explained. "I am an advocate."
"But you are writing law," Baldwin pointed out.
"That's my job," the lawmaker quipped. "When I was in public school, we all went through a ritual. I know you may find it strange, that said keep us from temptation. This was because we said the Lord's Prayer. Nobody - nobody should go where they'll be tempted. That includes me, that includes you, that includes a prospective judge."
In its 2003 Lawrence v. Texas ruling, the Supreme Court of the United States determined that so-called sodomy laws in Texas and 13 other states, including Virginia, were unconstitutional.
Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy argued that there was "no legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual."
But Section § 18.2-361 of Virginia Code, which bans sodomy, has never been repealed.
"If any person carnally knows in any manner any brute animal, or carnally knows any male or female person by the anus or by or with the mouth, or voluntarily submits to such carnal knowledge, he or she shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony," the law states.
Last year, the Supreme Court was asked to hear the case of a North Carolina man, William S. MacDonald, who was convicted of sodomy in Virginia in 2005 for oral sex.
Marshall is currently battling former Sen. George Allen and tea party activist Jamie Radtke for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.
"I've got strong beliefs, I can't change them like a coat," he told the Richmond Times-Dispatch last week.