A week after making the assertion that "sodomy is not a civil right," Virginia Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William, stood by his remarks during a campaign visit to a Central Virginia tea party meeting.
"If sodomy is a civil right, do we have to protect it? Do we have to fund it? Do we have to teach it? Do we have to encourage it? Do we have to facilitate it?," Marshall said in an interview Thursday after an appearance at a meeting of the Jefferson Area Tea Party. "... It is not a civil right."
Marshall gained national attention last week after making the controversial comment during a CNN interview about the General Assembly's rejection of an openly gay judicial nominee, Tracy Thorne-Begland.
Marshall and Chesapeake Bishop E.W. Jackson, both of whom are running against former Gov. George Allen for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, spoke Thursday evening at an event held at the Hibachi Grill buffet.
During his speech to a crowd of 40 to 50 tea party activists, Marshall touted his efforts to prevent Thorne-Begland from becoming a judge, which he has said were a response to Thorne-Begland's activism, not his sexual orientation.
"I led the charge. The assembly said no. That's what I would do in Washington," Marshall said. "I wouldn't let a federal judge be an activist there ... You saw me. I didn't let a state judge do it here."
Afterward, Marshall explained his remarks on CNN, saying that he feels a civil right is a reference to a status, not a behavior.
"Did you ever see water fountains in Virginia that say heterosexuals only? I didn't. Did you ever see statements that all the homosexuals are going to ride on one bus and heterosexuals on the other? No ...," Marshall said. "It is an insult to suggest that the efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks are in any way parallel to the efforts to do things that have been criminal for most of this nation's history."
Marshall also was asked whether he believes consensual gay sex is protected by the U.S. Constitution.
"The court says it is in certain limited circumstances. But you know what that behavior does? It cuts your life by about 20 years," Marshall answered. "It causes increased health problems. It doesn't serve the common good to promote this."
During his speech, Marshall portrayed himself as a savvy hard-liner who would hold fast to his principles.
"If you elect me, I'm going to cause liberals the same number of headaches, actually more, in Washington than I've done in Richmond," he said, summing up his campaign. "I haven't changed my views on one thing."
Jackson brandished a star-spangled axe during his speech, calling it a "symbol of the seriousness" with which he takes the nation's fiscal situation.
"This is a symbol of what I intend to use to cut the budget," Jackson said. "... I want to use this on Obamacare. I want to use it on the Department of Education and the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency], Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and the United Nations."
Fiscal troubles, Jackson said, are just a symptom of deeper problems.
"We have turned away from our Constitution," Jackson said. "... I believe that that Constitution is under assault like never before."
The fourth Senate candidate, tea party activist Jaime Radtke, spoke at the group's March meeting, but did not attend Thursday, according to the event announcement, which also said Allen had not yet responded to an open invitation to appear.
The Republican primary is June 12. The winner will face the Democratic nominee, former Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, in November for the seat being vacated by Jim Webb.
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