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Bob Marshall (Virginia politician)

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Bob Marshall (Virginia politician)

Bob Marshall
Member of the Virginia House of Representatives
from the 13th district
Assumed office
January 1992
Preceded by Joan Munford
Personal details
Born (1944-05-03) May 3, 1944 (age 70)
Takoma Park, Maryland, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Catherine Ann Fonseca
Children Teresa
Mary Clare
Alma mater Montgomery College
Belmont Abbey College
San Jose State University
Religion Roman Catholicism
Website Government website

Robert G. "Bob" Marshall (born May 3, 1944 in Takoma Park, Maryland) is a Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates representing the 13th District, currently serving his 11th term. His district includes portions of Prince William and Loudoun counties.

In 2008, Marshall ran for the United States Senate seat being vacated by John Warner.[1] On May 31, 2008, Marshall finished second to Jim Gilmore by 66 votes out of over 10,000 cast at the Republican convention.[2] In January 2012, Marshall announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Jim Webb. He lost in the Republican June primary to George Allen, winning only 7 percent of the vote.[3]

Early life, education, and business career

Marshall received his education from Montgomery College, Belmont Abbey College, and California State University. Before election to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1991, Marshall was a staffer for the American Life League, an organization which opposes all forms of abortion and birth control. After his election, he continued to work for the organization, including a stint as Executive Director in the mid-1990s [4] and now as a research consultant. He belongs to the All Saints Catholic Church in Manassas, Virginia. His sister is actress Paula Marshall.

Virginia House of Delegates


In 1991, Marshall ran for the House of Delegates 13th District seat, which was held by Democrat Joan Munford but left open after the 1990 redistricting process which caused Munford to run in the 12th District. Marshall faced Democrat Dale Reynolds and won handedly, 58%-42%.[5] After winning the seat, Marshall has been challenged and won comfortably in every election except 2003. He won with 66% of the vote in 1993,[6] 80% in 1995,[7] 85% in 1997,[8] 61% in 1999,[9] 63% in 2001,[10] 55% in 2005,[11] 58% in 2007,[12] 61% in 2009,[13] and 60% in 2011.[14]


Resolution of no confidence in Republican leadership

In September 2007, Marshall introduced a resolution "of no confidence in the policies of the current House of Delegates Republican Leadership as pursued from 2002 to the present". Among Marshall's complaints were that the Republican leaders were "Allowing government spending to increase at new record levels of spending" and that they were making policy decisions "in a small closed group and in a secretive manner without benefit of wide Caucus input or knowledge". For the latter, he said that the leadership, in late 2006, "prepared a transportation bill which Caucus members were expected to accept without discussion or critical input".[15] According to some state legislators, the only vote in favor of Marshall's resolution was that of Marshall himself.[16]

Abortion and birth control

In 1989, when Marshall was working as the research director of the American Life League, he told the Boston Globe that he opposes all forms of abortion and birth control that take effect after conception. "We're against the IUD and pills, too. They don't prevent ovulation and conception, they prevent implantation, which is abortion."[17]

According to the Globe, Marshall also "railed" against Norplant, a contraceptive not-yet-marketed at the time that is implanted under the skin and works for up to five years. "It's a real tribute to women's intelligence," Marshall told the reporter. "They feel so irresponsible they can't do something once a day?" [17] Norplant was eventually removed from the U.S. market for "business reasons". Because of health concerns, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that women consider other forms of birth control.[18]

When asked about abortion in the case of incest, Marshall replied that sometimes incest is voluntary. In response to abortions in the case of rape, Marshall said, "Your origins should not be held against you [referring to the victim's unborn child]. The woman becomes a sin-bearer of the crime, because the right of a child predominates over the embarrassment of the woman."[17]

The measure, barring public colleges from making the morning-after pill available,[19] went on to pass 54-46 in the House but ultimately failed in the Senate.

During the 2012 legislative session, Marshall and other Republicans supported a measure to require women in Virginia to undergo a trans-vaginal ultrasound procedure before being allowed to have a legal abortion. Public protests about this invasive procedure caused Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell to withdrawn his support for the bill. It was then amended to require only an "external" ultrasound procedure, even though it was not medically required or indicated.


In September 2007, State Senator John Watkins was overwhelmingly voted the chair of Virginia Commission on Immigration, 16-3. Marshall, however, refused to give up his interim chair and "panel members had to wrestle the gavel away from Marshall". Marshall then challenged Watkins to a debate.[20]

Disabled children

Marshall was the subject of controversy in February 2010, when he made a statement regarding complications of abortion on disabled children at a press conference to oppose state funding of Planned Parenthood:


Republican Governor Robert McDonnell also criticized Marshall, saying on Washington area radio station WTOP that his comments were "poor and offensive and wrong", and that "we should do everything we can for young children who are disabled and provide the best safety net we can".[21]

Gay rights

Following Congress' repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in December 2010, Marshall proposed a bill to "ban gays from openly serving in the Virginia National Guard because he is worried about service members catching sexually transmitted diseases from gay troops."[22] According to the Washington Post, Marshall justified the legislation by saying: "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," and "It's a distraction when I'm on the battlefield and have to concentrate on the enemy 600 yards away and I'm worried about this guy who's got eyes on me."[22]

The Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union wrote a letter to Marshall stating that "any attempt to exclude service members from the National Guard would be unconstitutional and ill-advised, and would certainly face a federal court challenge," and urging him to withdraw the bill.[23] Republican Governor Bob McDonnell also announced his opposition to the bill, saying that, while he disagreed with Congress' repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell: "We can't have two different systems in the federal and National Guard. ... Whatever the final guidelines of the Department of Defense I would expect the National Guard bureau in Virginia to adhere to those rules so we would have one set of rules for the entire military."[1] Reacting to the proposal, Ronald Bailey of Reason Magazine called Marshall "excreable" and "long[ed] for that glad day when the voters of the 13th district wise up and spare us the bigoted natterings of Marshall."[24]

Marshall has also expressed displeasure at the decision of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond's decision to fly a gay-pride flag alongside the American flag to celebrate Gay Pride month. Marshall wrote a letter to Jeffrey M. Lacker, president of the bank, urging him to take down the flag, claiming that homosexuality “adds significantly to illness, increases health costs, promotes venereal diseases, and worsens the population imbalance relating to the number of workers supporting the beneficiaries of America’s Social Security and Medicare programs.”[25] The bank refused to take the flag down.

Marshall sponsored the Marshall-Newman Amendment to the state constitution that prohibited same-sex marriage as well as civil unions, domestic partnerships, and "other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage." It also prohibits the recognition of other states' such legal arrangements. It was approved in a 2006 referendum by 57% to 43%.[26]

In May 2012, Marshall led a successful effort to defeat the nomination of openly gay prosecutor Tracy Thorne-Begland to a district court judgeship, who was supported by both the governor and a bipartisan judicial committee. Marshall explained that he was worried about possible bias in the case of a bar-room fight between a homosexual and a heterosexual. In a subsequent CNN interview, he declared that "sodomy is not a civil right.".[27] In January 2013, the House of Delegates held a new vote and confirmed the nomination of Thorne-Begland for judgeship. The vote again received bipartisan support. In response to the confirmation, Marshall expressed, "The members who switched are going to have a hard time explaining this to the Republican base...The conservatives are not going to be very pleased about this.".[28]


In 2006 the General Assembly passed House Bill 3202

Delegate Bob Marshall was strongly critical of this legislation during floor debate.[30] On the house floor in April 2007 he remarked "I cannot vote for this bill because there are too many subterfuges in here trying to avoid responsibility and accountability. Members of these regional governments -- and they are regional governments -- don't even have to vote on this until December. What's interesting about December? It's a month and a half after the election. They can all promise 'I'm not going to vote to raise any taxes' and then afterward they can vote to do it." [31]

After the bill passed over his objections, Marshall led an effort in conjunction with elected officials in Loudoun County, Virginia to have it overturned by the courts. Marshall's brief argued that the state Constitution did not authorize the establishment of unelected government bodies with the authority to impose and collect taxes. Article 7, Section 7 of the Constitution of Virginia states: "No ordinance or resolution... imposing taxes, or authorizing the borrowing of money shall be passed except by a recorded affirmative vote of a majority of all members elected to the governing body." [32]

The Supreme Court of Virginia unanimously ruled this legislation unconstitutional on February 29, 2008, siding with Marshall.[33]


The ruling surprised many proponents of HB3202. One newspaper describe the effect of the ruling as "hitting the General Assembly like a bomb", and the director of the Hampton Roads Regional Transportation Authority characterized the decision as "nuclear".[34]

Guns in schools

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Marshall proposed legislation that would require teachers or school staff to carry concealed handguns in public schools.[35]

Committee assignments

  • House Finance Committee
  • House Counties, Cities, and Towns Committee
  • House Science and Technology Committee[36]

U.S. Senate elections


On January 7, 2008, Marshall announced that he was running for John Warner's U.S. Senate seat. He was running against former Governor Jim Gilmore for the Republican nomination. Marshall ran well to Gilmore's right, claiming Gilmore is too soft on abortion. While Gilmore believes a woman should be able to choose whether to end her pregnancy in the first eight weeks, Marshall opposes abortion in all circumstances.[1][37]


After months of speculation, on January 12, 2012, Marshall confirmed that he would enter the race for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by the retiring Jim Webb.[38] He formally announced his candidacy on January 16, 2012, emailing supporters saying, "I can beat Tim Kaine," the presumptive Democratic nominee for the seat.[39] He lost in the June 12, 2012 Republican primary, coming in third out of four candidates with only 7 percent of the vote.[3]


External links

  • Official website
  • U.S. Senate Campaign Homepage
  • Virginia House of Delegates: Bio for Robert G. Marshall (2008 session)
  • Virginia Public Access Project: Robert G. Marshall
  • Virginia House Bill 350, 2000 Session, Text
  • Court overturns Virginia transport tax Washington Times, February 29, 2008
  • 2012 legislative session
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