Clearly, the only appropriate judges are in arranged marriages with total strangers

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, May 15, 2012 13:13 EDT
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Gay marriage opponents often take pains to claim that it’s not that they’re against gay people—how dare you say that!—but that they just want to protect “traditional marriage”. This story is implausible on its surface, of course. They’ve accepted many changes to marriage law, such as legal divorce. Plus, if “that’s the way we’ve always done it” was a real argument, they should also resist everything from the computer to the automobile, which have changed society in ways that affect them directly far more than gay marriage could. 

But even beyond that, you have direct evidence that opposition to gay marriage is part of a larger belief that gay people should face formal discrimination for housing, health care, and employment, to punish them for being different. “Traditional marriage” is being used as a cover to advocate for discrimination against people just because they’re gay. See Bob Marshall, a GOP legislator in Virginia who is really, really obsessed with people who aren’t having sex with him, and he fears are having too much fun. He’s backed legislation to punish those sex-having ladies, and now on the grounds of their sexy, sexy gay relationships.

Virginia state Del. Bob Marshall (R) has launched an effort to block an openly gay judge from being considered for a post on a general district court.

Marshall said he believes that Tracy Thorne-Begland, a Richmond-based prosecutor who lives with his partner and two adopted children, should be removed from the list of potential appointees. Thorne-Begland’s sexual orientation would conflict with his ability to hold up the state’s constitution, Marshall said.

“Marriage is between one man and one woman, and the the applicant has represented himself in public in a relationship that we don’t recognize in Virginia,” Marshall said in an interview with WRIC, the ABC affiliate in Richmond.

So there you have it: Banning gay marriage is really about putting gay people into a formal second class that can be barred from certain jobs, and I’m sure if Marshall had his way, pretty much all jobs. 

The underlying assumption of this argument is that a minimum requirement for judges is that they can’t be in a public relationship that isn’t recognized by the state. Marshall would like you to believe this is a criteria that’s always been around and is just now being abandoned, but as far as I can tell, the “judges must be in legally recognized public relationships” is a brand-spanking new requirement. It would also mean that any straight judge who is dating someone would also be barred from the bench, since they’re in a public relationship that isn’t marriage. One also wonders if Marshall would make this a retroactive requirement, meaning that even if a judge is married now, if they dated their spouse prior to the marriage, they should be barred from the bench. He is an anti-sex fanatic—he backed the “personhood” bill that would basically classify all sexually active straight women of reproductive age as “pregnant”, barring them from wide swaths of medical care and certain kinds of employment just because they touch penises—so I wouldn’t be surprised. Take this train of thought to its logical conclusion, and if you’ve ever been alone with another person not a relative, we have to assume you’ve had sex outside of a legallly recognized relationship and shouldn’t ever be considered for the bench. This niftily eliminates 100% of candidates, allowing wingnutty legislatures to pass any kind of hateful law they want with no check on it, but I’m sure that benefit is just a bonus for Bob Marshall.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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