Sodomy is a civil right, some legal experts are saying in response to Virginia GOP delegate Bob Marshall’s headline making comment that “sodomy is not a civil right.”
The Virginia legislator’s comment regarded why he was in opposition to a gay prosecutor, Tracy Thorne-Begland, from becoming a judge, stating that the attorney’s past activism and support of gay rights could bias his future decisions as judge, reports MSNBC:
“Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks never took an oath of office that they broke. Sodomy is not a civil right…He can be a prosecutor if he wants to, but we don’t want advocates as judges.”
William Eskridge is a Yale Law School professor and the author of “Dishonorable Passions,” a history of sodomy laws in America. Eskridge points out that the US Supreme Court struck down a criminal sodomy law in Texas in its landmark 2003 case of Lawrence vs. Texas:
“The Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence that anal or oral sex, commonly known as sodomy, when performed in private by consenting adults, is constitutionally protected — which makes it a civil right.”
Even though that particular case involved two gay men, Eskridge points out the protection also extends to heterosexual couples, which account for most cases of sodomy.
Eskridge goes on to say (referring to Marshall):
“The representative has the same civil right as the gay prosecutor.”
University of Virginia School of Law professor Kim Forde-Mazrui agrees with Eskridge by saying:
“That is something you have a constitutional right to do. Adults have that right without being subject to criminal punishment.”
Forde-Mazrui also rejects the idea that Thorne=Begland’s orientation or beliefs would make him any more biased:
“If you mean that people are always biased in favor of members of their own group then that would suggest that a straight male or a white judge could not be impartial in a case involving a crime between a straight and a gay person, a man and woman, or a white and black person — which would render most judges and juries suspect by his conception.”
The Virginia House of Delegates this week voted to reject Thorne-Begland’s bid to become a general district court judge in Richmond.
Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael N. Herring, Thorne- Begland’s boss, tells reporters for Richmond Times Dispatch:
“It’s hard to think about what happened in the General Assembly and not conclude that it’s a form of bigotry…..He is a fine man, father, lawyer, Navy pilot, and would have been an outstanding judge.”
He went on to describe Thorne-Begland’s defeat in the Virginia House of Delegates as an “embarrassment” for the state.
You can see an interview with Bob Marshall and his statement that sodomy is not a civil right in the video below.