At age 34, two years before his first election and two decades before he would run for governor of Virginia, Robert F. McDonnell submitted a master's thesis to the evangelical school he was attending in Virginia Beach in which he described working women and feminists as "detrimental" to the family. He said government policy should favor married couples over "cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators." He described as "illogical" a 1972 Supreme Court decision legalizing the use of contraception by unmarried couples.
The 93-page document, which is publicly available at the Regent University library, culminates with a 15-point action plan that McDonnell said the Republican Party should follow to protect American families -- a vision that he started to put into action soon after he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.
During his 14 years in the General Assembly, McDonnell pursued at least 10 of the policy goals he laid out in that research paper, including abortion restrictions, covenant marriage, school vouchers and tax policies to favor his view of the traditional family. In 2001, he voted against a resolution in support of ending wage discrimination between men and women.
In his run for governor, McDonnell, 55, makes little mention of his conservative beliefs and has said throughout his campaign that he should be judged by what he has done in office, including efforts to lower taxes, stiffen criminal penalties and reform mental health laws. He reiterated that position Saturday in a statement responding to questions about his thesis.
One controversy that drew wide attention was an effort in the General Assembly in 2003 to end the judicial career of Verbena M. Askew, a Circuit Court judge from Newport News who had been accused of sexual harassment by a woman who worked for her. As chairman of the Courts of Justice Committee, McDonnell led the effort in the House. He said he was opposed to Askew's reappointment because she didn't disclose, as required, that she was a party to a legal proceeding.
McDonnell was widely quoted at the time as saying that homosexual activity raised questions about a person's qualifications to be a judge. Spokesman Tucker Martin said McDonnell was misquoted and does not consider homosexuality a disqualifying factor for judgeships or other jobs.
Askew, who was not reappointed, denied any wrongdoing and was never found by a court to have harassed the employee.
I saw recently that his Democratic opponent, Creigh Deeds was actually hitting him on his opposition to abortion, something that not many Democrats have the balls to do anymore. When I heard about it I was on the one hand happy that Deeds wasn't hiding from the issue but on the other hand I did wonder about the political implications. In the back of my mind I kept thinking that McDonnell must have some radical skeletons in his closet or something when it comes to abortion and I guess we see now that this is certainly the case. But what we need to do is keep him on the defensive and keep hitting him on these issues.
Every liberal and progressive blogger who is concerned about the race in Virginia should be bringing this issue up a couple of times a week. For as much as people may have some personal reservations about abortion I don't think his views on it are even close to being mainstream. Its time that we started labeling the anti choicers as the real radicals as we should have been doing from the start.
Make McDonnell own his past and then see how many Republicans continue to try to fight these culture wars.
(h/t O Dub)