Virginia Del. Bob Marshall (R) is a longtime opponent of LGBT equality, and he’s now calling for the impeachment of Attorney General Mark Herring (D), primarily for his refusal to defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Marshall filed the resolutions seeking an inquiry for Herring’s impeachment last week, but in a new email to supporters, he outlined his reasons for doing so. “Removing all standards against same sex or sodomy ‘marriage,’” he explained, is “to the detriment of children and the well-being of society.”
According to Marshall, “Mark Herring’s actions constitute a radical structural alteration in our representative form of government.” In addition to objections that Herring has chosen not to defend the state’s marriage ban, a decision that is not unprecedented, Marshall also claims he “usurped legislative authority” by inviting undocumented immigrants (DREAMers) to pay in-state tuition rates at Virginia state school.
Marshall’s attacks include something that Herring did not actually even do. According to the email alert, Herring publicly announced that he is allowing same-sex couples to file joint tax returns, but Herring has made no such announcement. Just before leaving office, Herring’s predecessor Ken Cuccinelli (R) issued a legal opinion specifically banning recognition of same-sex couples’ marital status for income tax returns. The opinion illuminates a conflict between Virginia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and state law requiring that taxes be collected at the state level in the same way that they are at the federal level, which would require recognizing same-sex couples’ marriages. Though Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) is investigating reversing this precedent, Herring has not issued a contradicting opinion of his own.
In the email, Marshall also extended a threat to impeach judges who might overturn bans on same-sex marriage. Rulings based on the 14th Amendment’s equal protection “make no sense,” he argued, because when that Amendment was ratified, “sodomy was a felony in nearly every state.”
A long reputation of anti-gay comments precedes Marshall’s impeachment attempts. In 2012, he opposed the appointment of openly gay Judge Tracy Thorne-Begland because “sodomy is not a civil right.” In a 2011 letter attacking Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) for supporting marriage equality, Marshall compared homosexuality to pedophilia, prostitution, polygamy, necrophilia, and bestiality. He believes that homosexuality is a “disordered behavior” and after the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” he tried to ban “active homosexuals” from joining the Virginia National Guard.
As of publication, Marshall’s public petition to rally support for Herring’s impeachment has garnered 110 signatures, one of the most recent of which was from “FuckYou Bob.”