Monday, August 31, 2009

McDonnell's Stunning Lack of Honesty

For anyone who wants to fully appreciate how dishonest Bob McDonnell's campaign has been, just consider his response today to the Thesis Scandal, focusing on the issue of homosexuality.

According to the Washington Post, McDonnell said in the thesis, "Government policy should favor married couples over 'cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators.'"

McDonnell, however, wants us to believe the opinions he expressed twenty years ago are not the opinions he holds today; that he has changed. According to a report from MSNBC, here is what Bob said today during a conference call with both Virginian and national reporters:
McDonnell said his beliefs against same-sex marriage had not changed, though "any other normal civil liberties should be fully protected" for gay couples.

Oh, okay, so since writing in 1989 at the age of 34 that government policy should discriminate in favor of married couples over homosexuals, we should be able to see McDonnell's development over the years to his current enlightened position that other civil liberties should be fully protects. Civil liberties such as being free of discrimination in hiring, or in being accepted to college, or in being able to serve as a judge or other public servant, or in being able to form a civil union recognized by law and all its attendant protections with a lifelong partner that you love -- civil liberties that most of us take for granted.

Unfortunately, Bob McDonnell's record over the years says -- no, it loudly screams -- something else entirely.

* in 2004, Mr. McDonnell sought to block the reappointment of a Newport News Circuit Judge named Verbina Askew because she was allegedly gay. McDonnell, of course, is not an idiot. He went to great pains to assert that the judge’s sexual orientation did not matter to him; rather, the fact that she may have violated Virginia anti-sodomy statute in force at the time, which prohibited oral and anal sex, was a factor to consider in her reappointment. Said McDonnell at the time, “It [possible sodomy] certainly raises some questions about the qualifications to serve as a judge." McDonnell also said, "There is certain homosexual conduct that is in violation of the law," McDonnell said. "I’m not telling you I would disqualify a judge per se if he said he was gay. I’m talking about their actions." (Incidentally, this was the context for the infamous incident in which Mr. McDonnell was asked whether he had ever violated the statute, and he hilariously responded, “Not that I can recall.”)

* In 2004-2005, McDonnell helped draft the Marshall Newman amendment to the Virginia Constitution, a particularly obnoxious and offensive amendment enshrining discrimination against gay people in Virginia, effectively preventing not only marriage but legal recognition of civil union. The amendment passed in 2006.

* As Attorney General, Mr. McDonnell lost no time issuing an opinion in early 2006, shortly after assuming office, to countermand the executive order by both Governors Warner and Kaine to bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Whatever the legal effect of his opinion, McDonnell’s legal reasoning was shoddy enough that it led the Virginia ACLU to conclude, “It is distressing when clouded judgment and poor lawyering by a high government official leads him to conclusions that are clearly at odds with common sense, common decency and the law.”

* In mid 2006, McDonnell discussed with his patron and mentor, Pat Robertson, the pending Marshall-Newman Amendment. Here is what he said: "We think it is critically important to protect the institution of marriage from court attack to enshrine in the Constitution that marriage is between one man and one woman and that other forms of relationships are just not going to be recognized in Virginia."

* In early 2007, after The Christopher Newport University board banned discrimination in matters of admissions and employment based on sexual orientation, Attorney General Bob McDonnell took the time to write the school to tell them, as the publication Inside Higher Ed put it, “it would not be legal for the university (or other public institutions in the state, which have done the same thing) to bar discrimination based on sexual orientation.” Wow! So, according to Bob McDonnell, even if an institution wants to make discrimination illegal, it cannot do so.

* As Attorney General, Bob McDonnell intervened in a private lawsuit among members of the Episcopal Church in a dispute that had gay rights at its core. In a protest over gay priests, dissident members left the church, but filed suit seeking to retain church property. Mr. McDonnell, needless to say, sought to intervene in the case on the side of the anti-gay dissidents, ostensibly in defense of a state statute. But the dispute was a religious and social one, above all else, not a Constitutional one. A real estate attorney told the Washington Post that McDonnell’s intervention in the case “was a little out of the ordinary.” Perhaps more interesting, was this, as the Post reported:
McDonnell's office has another connection to this issue -- his deputy, former state senator William C. Mims (R), who has been a member of another Episcopal church that broke away from the national church over the same issues of how to understand Scripture as it pertains to homosexuality. Mims prompted controversy and much debate in 2005 when he -- as a senator -- proposed a bill that would have explicitly allowed congregants who leave their denominations to keep their land. The measure failed, and opponents said it was an inappropriate insertion of government into church affairs.

That's quite a record.

Does Bob McDonnell and his campaign really believe that a bare assertion, "I won't discriminate," somehow trumps this extensive record suggesting just the opposite? It was one thing when McDonnell was trying to pass off this canard on voters, many of whom would not have a knowledge base to know better, but it is stunning to me that he would feed this same bullshit to a conference call of the Commonwealth's political reporters and expect them to just swallow it.

Just incredible.

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