Republican U.S. Senate incumbent Richard Burr and Democratic challenger Elaine Marshall faced off in a debate on PBS broadcast from UNC-TV studios in Research Triangle Park.
Democratic challenger Elaine Marshall accused Republican incumbent Richard Burr in their last television debate Thursday night of having views on homosexuality that are “wrongheaded and discriminatory.” But Burr said she wasn’t listening to him and that she was trying to inject race into a discussion of gay rights.
Marshall said that being gay or lesbian is a genetic matter and not a matter of choice. Burr said he didn’t believe the science was conclusive on the issue.
Well one thing is clear — Burr’s another one hung up on the soap dropping in the shower as you will see below. The DADT question starts at 36:43. Judy Woodruff starts off with a side question of whether being gay is a choice. Watch it —
Moderator: We’ve talked about the military. Right now there’s a battle underway in the courts of this country, the federal courts, and in Washington, over what to do about the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy against gays in the military. I’d like you to comment on that but I also have a very straightforward question, and that is: do you believe that being gay is–or lesbian–is it a matter of genetics, of biology or is it a matter of choice?
Marshall: Well Judy, it’s a… your last question is the most important. I don’t believe it is a matter of choice. I believe that it is a biological occurrence, specifically beyond that I don’t have the scientific knowledge to say, but I don’t really believe its choice. I do think that if there are people that want to stand up for me and stand up for every American and defend us around the world they should be able to do that. I believe the government policy on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell needs to be repealed. As to the judge and the courts – this is a law that Congress made, it is something that Congress needs to fix. The president has recommended it, the highest of brass has recommended it, and it is time that that takes place. It should have taken place but it hasn’t taken place, and now we’ve gotten judges from the Ninth Circuit who, a judge, who has jumped in on this, probably because Congress didn’t act, but it really needs to be decided by Congress and not the judiciary.
Moderator: And Mr. Burr, respond on the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and also the question on whether being gay and lesbian is a matter of genetics, biology or a matter of choice.
Burr: Well, Judy, let me just say I’m not sure that any of us know whether its genetic or by choice, and I’m not sure that’s even relevant. If somebody chooses that lifestyle and how it might then impact our policies. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has worked. Now personally I don’t see a reason to reverse it. But that’s a personal opinion. I think the country should have a debate. And what we should do is we should wait until the Department of Defense has gotten back the survey of those individuals who serve. That survey’s back in December. This is not too far off. I agree with Secretary Marshall. This is not an issue for the courts to decide. This is a law of the country and only Congress can in fact address it. But I’m confident of this – that this is the wrong time to change this policy. We’ve got hundreds of thousands of troops deployed. We don’t yet know what we might have to do, from a standpoint of changing the accommodations for troops if the policy changed. Now I’m not scared to have the debate, I welcome the debate, but I’m also very confident that we should time this in a way that makes as little impact on those troops that are deployed as we possibly can.
Moderator: And so the research that has shown, that indicates that gay/lesbian is a matter of biology, you would say…
Burr: I would only say that I’m not sure there has been conclusive evidence of what the result is.
Moderator: A rebuttal.
Marshall: I would respond to that by saying there is ample evidence that it is biological and Senator Burr obviously believes its by choice. That is wrong headed and discriminatory. We shouldn’t be judging people by the color of their hair, the color of their eyes, the color of their skin, or other factors that they have no control over. That’s wrong in America, and what you’re talking about is governmental discrimination for something that’s outside of somebody’s control
Burr: Secretary Marahall, I’m not sure that I referred to anybody’s skin color, or to their hair color. This is a very specific group of individuals, and I made it very clear what my position was. But don’t bring race into this.
Marshall: It is because of who they are by factors that they have no control over. Gender is another one of those. This country has been replete with discrimination based upon things that folks have no control over, and its time in 2010, this century, that we end that.
Let’s just say it goes downhill from there — it’s hard to recover after Sen. Burr says our ‘founders’ wrote the 14th amendment. That comes after the above statements about DADT. FAIL-O-RAMA.
UPDATE: Igor Volsky at The Wonk Room on the 14th Amendment statement:
During tonight’s North Carolina senate debate, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) said he was against changing the 14th amendment to eliminate birth right citizenship, but said “it is important for the courts to determine” if the “founders” intended to allow for the practice:
BURR ON THE 14th: But I think when you have a debate in the country and that issue is raised, then it’s important for us to have that arbitrator, the courts to come in and tell us did our founders, when they wrote the 14th, did they have something else envisioned?