Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell on
Tuesday reiterated that he's not opposed to openly gay judges.
McDonnell made his remarks on WTOP's
Earlier this month, Virginia Delegate
Bob Marshall led an effort to block Tracy Thorne-Begland from serving
as a general district court judge in Richmond. The
Republican-controlled Virginia House of Delegates voted down
Thorne-Begland's nomination with a 31-33 vote.
on cabler CNN, Marshall insisted that “sodomy is not a civil
right” in the course of explaining his opposition to the gay
McDonnell said before the vote that he
did not believe being gay should disqualify someone from serving as a
judge. He reiterated that stance on Tuesday, but not before host
Mark Segraves revisited a 2003 episode in which McDonnell opposed a
“I have long been an advocate of
judicial selection based on merit,” he told Segraves.
Segraves noted that in 2003, McDonnell
led a successful effort to oust a lesbian Circuit Court judge. At
the time, then-Delegate McDonnell suggested that gay people are
criminals because they were violating the state's anti-sodomy
“[Y]ou got that out of context,”
McDonnell complained. “What I said was someone, at the time,
actually there were certain acts that would be a crime ...”
“It's 2003,” Segraves interrupted.
“Right. If someone had [committed] a
crime, honestly that would call into question their ability to be a
judge. But I was very clear in other statements of the time that
those factors should not be an element of the decision making.”
McDonnell said that the judge was not
reappointed for a second term because she had not disclosed on her
judicial application that there was a pending lawsuit charging her of
sexually harassing a female employee, as she was required to do.
“There were a lot of things, Mark,
that led to that decision. This [being gay] was not a factor. And
so I'm disappointed that people still would say that.”
Segraves asked: “If a judge came
before the General Assembly for confirmation now who is openly gay,
admitted was openly gay in 2002 [before the Supreme Court struck down
the law], and having sexual relationships, and anal sex, which was
against the law back then, would that disqualify them from serving as
a judge now?”
“What I, the law at the time, and so,
I ...” a flustered McDonnell answered.
Later McDonnell clarified that he would
not object to a gay judicial nominee “if they are otherwise
qualified to be on the bench based on merit, ability, judicial
temperament and ability to follow the law regardless of what their
political beliefs are.”