CNN Compares Nominating Gay Activist to Judiciary with Desegregation
CNN continued its narrative of tying gay rights to the civil
rights movement of the 1960s, on Tuesday's Starting Point. Anchor
Brooke Baldwin and her panel battered Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall for
blocking the nomination of a gay prosecutor to the state's bench, even
though Marshall argued that he was unfit for the position because of his
activism and not his orientation.
Baldwin went so far as to connect the nomination with desegregation and women's suffrage. "Obviously, you know, blacks used to have to sit in the back of the bus. They don't have to anymore. There was discriminate – women couldn't vote. They can vote now. Times have changed. Do you not – do you not agree that he could be given a chance?" she offered Marshall.
Just this past weekend, CNN's Don Lemon compared Mitt Romney with segregationist governor George Wallace for his opposition to gay marriage. Lemon also compared the fight over same-sex marriage to the struggle for desegregation and legalized interracial marriage.
Marshall also accused Baldwin of "mischaracterizing" his argument. He had argued that sodomy is not a civil right, but Baldwin took that to mean that he opposed the nomination purely on those grounds. "It is a pattern of behavior," he insisted, "when you can blanket condemn the entire judiciary of the Commonwealth of Virginia, I think you're setting yourself up to be outside the realm of consideration."
[Video below the break. Audio here.]
Phoney-conservative Margaret Hoover, a member of the CNN panel,
launched a no-holds barred ambush on the conservative Virginia delegate.
"But it seems that what you're saying in terms of his activism and the
political – the pattern of behavior, all you can point to are things
that relate to his sexuality," she argued, as if those accusations could
thus be disqualified.
And Baldwin quoted a fellow Republican – one of eight GOP delegates to approve of the nomination – as well as Governor Bob McDonnell – to counter Marshall's argument, even though he was in the majority vote.
Baldwin concluded by asking if "there will ever be room for a gay judge" in Virginia. Marshall replied that an openly-gay nominee would have to follow the state's law. Virginia's constitution prohibits same-sex marriages.
"If you say that you're married and the constitution says you can't be married, that's a conflict between your oath of office and the supreme law of the state of Virginia, as approved by the voters of Virginia," Marshall explained.
A transcript of the segment, which aired on May 17 on Starting Point at 7:35 a.m. EDT, is as follows:
BROOKE BALDWIN: I know the vote in the wee hours of the morning, 31-33,
voting against. You were one of the nays. Why vote against him?
Del. ROBERT MARSHALL, (R-Va.): He displayed a pattern of behavior that was inconsistent with what we have come to expect in Virginia judges. We've never appoint – I've been there 21 years. We've never appointed an activist of any kind along these lines, much less somebody who has a long history of this.
For example, he 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. He took an oath of office, which he had to defy. There were regulations he defied on going on television, there were superior orders of officers, there's a uniform code of military justice. In 2004 in Richmond Magazine, he made a blanket statement condemning the entire judiciary of the Commonwealth of Virginia as being overtly hostile to homosexuals and lesbians. He –
BALDWIN: Sir, let me just jump in because – because two points. We now know that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" it's been repealed. Obviously, you know, blacks used to have to sit in the back of the bus. They don't have to anymore. There was discriminate – women couldn't vote. They can vote now. Times have changed. Do you not – do you not agree that he could be given a chance?
MARSHALL: 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 the civil rights movement. You have to look at the past. And in fact, look – in late 2011, he was critical of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." He criticized our attorney general simply for explaining what the law of Virginia is with respect to certain protected classes.
BALDWIN: Sir –
MARSHALL: So, he has gone beyond that. He can be a prosecutor, if he wants to. But we don't want advocates as judges.
BALDWIN: You bring up – you bring up sodomy. Is the reason why you voted against him because he's gay, pure and simple?
MARSHALL: No. I – sorry, you're mischaracterizing that. I said sodomy is not a civil right, and there's an effort by homosexual lobbyists to equate the two. That's wrong. It is a pattern of behavior – when you can blanket condemn the entire judiciary of the Commonwealth of Virginia, I think you're setting yourself up to be outside the realm of consideration.
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN contributor: Actually, sir – Margaret Hoover here. I just wanted to mention – I'm sure you're familiar with the case that was reviewed by the Supreme Court, Texas v. Lawrence, where actually, sodomy laws were overruled. So, to say sodomy is not a civil right is just, is sort of an absurd, it seems to me, argument.
But it seems that what you're saying in terms of his activism and the political – the pattern of behavior, all you can point to are things that relate to his sexuality. Can you point to any other set of activities that relate to advocacy that you are worried about with this individual becoming a judge in Virginia?
MARSHALL: An oath of office -- when you take an oath to obey your superiors to abide by the regulations of the military, to accept the uniform code of military justice – look, there are, I'm sure, homosexuals who obeyed that. There are heterosexuals who obeyed that despite the commands of their superior officers. I commend them all for doing that. The military needs discipline.
When you decide to step outside of that – and remember, he received training that cost the taxpayers a million dollars – he basically threw that away and did not fulfill his six-year contract because he decided to come out in 1992. That's a problem.
BALDWIN: What about a judge recusing himself or herself if he or she feels that they cannot take on a particular case because of potential bias?
MARSHALL: Yeah, Elena Kagan said she would recuse herself, and she was the solicitor general and did not recuse herself in this ObamaCare case. You have to have – the public has to be assured before they step into that courtroom that they're going to receive impartial justice. And under these circumstances, I don't think it was the case. It's not just my own view.
BALDWIN: The governor of your state from your own party. Quote, "The governor believes candidates for judicial vacancies must be considered based solely on their merit, record, aptitude and skill. No other factors should ever be considered, and the governor has long made clear that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is not acceptable in state government." Do you think, sir, there will ever be room for a gay judge in your state?
MARSHALL: I said we probably have appointed homosexuals in the past.
HILL: An out gay judge?
BALDWIN: An out gay judge.
MARSHALL: I haven't had to face that in 21 years. And again, it's going to depend upon your behavior. If you say that you're married and the constitution says you can't be married, that's a conflict between your oath of office and the supreme law of the state of Virginia, as approved by the voters of Virginia.
-- Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center