We’ve been keeping an eye on the controversy surrounding Tracy Thorne-Begland’s judicial nomination in Virginia, and it took an interesting turn yesterday.
To briefly recap, Thorne-Begland, who enjoyed bipartisan backing, is a state prosecutor, a father, and a former Top Gun fighter pilot, and his nomination enjoyed bipartisan sponsorship, but the Virginia Republicans rejected him anyway. Because Thorne-Begland is gay, and supports equal rights, the GOP said he’s biased and unqualified for the state bench.
Of course, that rationale didn’t make any sense. It’d be the equivalent of saying Justice Thurgood Marshall was unqualified for the Supreme Court, because he fought for civil rights at the NAACP.
On CNN yesterday, Virginia Del. Bob Marshall, a far-right Republican, offered a new rationale.
For those who can’t watch clips online, the full transcript is available, but here’s the gist of Marshall’s case against Thorne-Begland:
“[H]e had to misstate his background in order to be received into the military in the late 1980s. There was a specific question. Are you a homosexual? He had to say no…. Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks never took an oath of office that they broke. Sodomy is not a civil right. It’s not the same as a civil rights movement.”
Let’s take these claims one at a time.
First, it’s worth noting that the Supreme Court ruled against anti-sodomy laws in Texas v. Lawrence, so in a practical sense, American adults do have a civil right to engage in consensual sexual activity.
Second, and more important, is the notion that Thorne-Begland can’t serve on a misdemeanor court because of how he enlisted in the military. In this case, Thorne-Begland hid his sexual orientation in order to join the Navy, serve his country, put his life on the line in a very dangerous position, and become a respected fighter pilot.
Instead of thanking him for his service, Republicans are now holding his service against him – effectively attacking Thorne-Begland for enlisting and promising to protect the rest of us.
Rationalizing bigotry is apparently harder than Virginia Republicans thought it’d be.