I know it probably doesn’t seem like it, but I really don’t like having to call out Republicans – especially Northern Virginia Republicans – when they’re behaving badly. But I do it, because it’s better for us to police ourselves than it is to let the Democrats mock our policy positions and make us look like we’re out of touch at best. And, honestly, Bob Marshall and I have been on a streak together for the last few months, where I have agreed with him on his stance on the federal health care mandates being unconstitutional, on his opposition to increased convention fees and the desire for a primary to choose our 2012 Senate candidate, and his concern over Speaker Howell’s repeal amendment. I was starting to think I might have misjudged him.
But even Brett Favre’s streak had to come to an end, and I have to disagree with Delegate Marshall on his latest foray into using the Constitution as a weapon against the federal government. Marshall has garnered national attention over his controversial statements that Virginia should use its authority to regulate the Virginia national guard to ban gays serving openly. The statement, coming just days after Congress passed a repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy that was 17 years in the making, has aroused anger across the country. And, ignoring one of the cardinal rules of politics that when you’re in a hole you should stop digging, he’s made statements today arguing that “If I needed a blood transfusion and the guy next to me had committed sodomy 14 times in the last month, I’d be worried,” among other statements.
Stop talking, Bob. Please, just stop talking. You aren’t going to make what you said any better by explaining yourself, especially when your explanation is as ridiculous as your original argument.
As I noted in my post earlier this week, repealing DADT was a popular move, with 77% of Americans agreeing with the move. I won’t comment on whether Marshall’s reading of Article I Section 8 clause 16 is accurate, as I am not familiar with the history and construction of that provision nor how it has been construed by the Courts, but I will say that on first glance, it doesn’t really seem to give Virginia the ability to do what he suggests it does. But, regardless, his opposition to gays serving in the military seems to be based on a poorly reasoned theory that gays are somehow more likely to contract sexually transmitted diseases than straight people are. That’s simply not true – some sexual acts are more prone to the transmission of STDs, but those acts can be committed between heterosexuals just as easily and as often as between homosexuals. If the guy in the foxhole next to Bob was “committing sodomy 14 times in the last month” with a female partner, statistics show the soldier should be just as worried about it as if his squadmate was with another man.
There is no reason why we need to keep dragging this fight out. Regardless of whether you are for or against gay marriage, gay rights or however you want to characterize it, there’s no reason to keep trying to bar these folks from serving in uniform. Trying to find cunning ways to circumvent Congress is a waste of energies that could be better spent elsewhere.
Even a majority of Republicans agree that gays shouldn’t be barred from serving. There’s no legitimate military reason to stop them from serving, and in a few more years everyone will wonder what all the fuss was about.
And if the fact that allowing gays to serve is the right thing to do isn’t good enough for him, he needs to recognize that damage he’s doing to the GOP brand. Marshall is handing a box of ammunition to his enemies and to the GOP’s critics – and on an issue where he is on the wrong side of both history and public opinion. I understand he’s taking a stand on something he believes in, but he’s wrong. And the louder he is in being wrong, the more damage he’s going to do to the party going into the 2011 elections.
Delegate Marshall is wrong here and would do all of us a great service if he would simply let the issue die.