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Bob Marshall
Bob Marshall (8002220023).jpg
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
from the 13th district
In office
January 8, 1992 – January 10, 2018
Preceded by Joan H. Munford
Succeeded by Danica Roem
Personal details
Robert Gerald Marshall

(1944-05-03) May 3, 1944 (age 79)
Takoma Park, Maryland, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Catherine Ann Fonseca
Children 5
Residence(s) Manassas, Virginia
Alma mater Montgomery College (AA)
Belmont Abbey College (BA)
California State University, Northridge (MA)

Robert Gerald Marshall (born May 3, 1944) is an American businessman, author and former politician, who was a Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates representing the 13th District. His district included portions of Prince William and Loudoun counties. He is known for his failed "bathroom bill" proposal, which would have forced people to use restrooms that correspond with the sex on their original birth certificates. In the November 7, 2017, general election, Marshall was defeated by nine percentage points by Democrat Danica Roem, the first openly transgender candidate elected to a state legislature in the United States.

In 2008, Marshall ran for the United States Senate seat being vacated by John Warner, but he finished second to Jim Gilmore by 66 votes out of over 10,000 cast at the Republican convention. 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.

Early life, education, and business career

Marshall received his education from Montgomery College, Belmont Abbey College, and California State University, Northridge. Before election to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1991, Marshall was a staffer for the American Life League. After his election, he continued to work for the organization, including a stint as executive director in the mid-1990s 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 handily, 58%-42%. After winning the seat, Marshall was challenged and won in every election except 2003, when he ran unopposed, and 2017, which he lost to Danica Roem. He won with 66% of the vote in 1993, 80% in 1995, 85% in 1997, 61% in 1999, 63% in 2001, 55% in 2005, 58% in 2007, 61% in 2009, 60% in 2011, 51% in 2013, and 56% in 2015.

"No confidence" in House 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". According to some state legislators, the only vote in favor of Marshall's resolution was that of Marshall himself.

Topics of action


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.


Marshall expressed displeasure at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond's decision to fly a gay pride flag alongside the American flag to celebrate LGBT Pride Month in 2011. Marshall wrote a letter to Jeffrey M. Lacker, president of the bank, urging him to take down the flag. The bank refused.

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 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 said, "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."

In May 2014, Marshall filed paperwork for the impeachment of Virginia's Democratic attorney general Mark Herring on the grounds that Herring had refused to defend the Commonwealth's ban on same-sex marriage in federal court. The impeachment demand swiftly was rejected by his fellow Republican, Virginia Speaker of the House William J. Howell. Marshall also called for the impeachment of judges who might overturn the ban.

In January 2015, Marshall introduced Virginia House Bill 1414 which would enable refusal of service to persons based on same-sex marriage or homosexual behavior by any public or private business in some way licensed by the state. Critics suggest that the law, if enacted, could be used by hospitals to turn away patients, restaurants to refuse to serve, and to remove students from school and compared it to Jim Crow laws. The Virginia Christian Alliance emphasized its position that the bill is critical to clergy and that they "fear for their job" if the bill should fail.


In 2004, Marshall was the chief patron of the "Affirmation of Marriage Act" (HB751), which declared "the Commonwealth of Virginia is under no constitutional or legal obligation to recognize a marriage, civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement purporting to bestow any of the privileges or obligations of marriage under the laws of another state or territory of the United States unless such marriage conforms to the laws of this Commonwealth." The bill was introduced in January and was signed into law on April 26, 2004. HB751 extended and affirmed the existing HB1589/SB884, which had been enacted in 1997. The 1997 bills prohibited same-sex marriages and also prohibited the recognition of other states' such marriages; HB751 extended that prohibition to other legal arrangements not specifically named "marriage".

Marshall went on to sponsor the Marshall-Newman Amendment to the state constitution in 2005, which 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 passed the General Assembly in 2005 (HJ 586, incorporating Marshall's HJ 584) and was approved in a 2006 voter referendum by 57% to 43%. With the ratification of the amendment, Section 15-A was added to Article I, stating "[t]hat only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions."

Military service

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."

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. 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." 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."


In 2006 the General Assembly passed House Bill 3202 which authorized Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads to raise revenue through regional authorities, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority and the Hampton Roads Transportation Authority respectively. Revenues raised by these authorities were intended to be used for regional transportation improvements.

Marshall was strongly critical of this legislation during floor debate. 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."

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."

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

the General Assembly has failed to adhere to the mandates of accountability and transparency that the Constitution requires when the General Assembly exercises the legislative taxing authority permitted by the Constitution.

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".

Bathroom bill

Marshall introduced the "Physical Privacy Act" (HB 1612), a bill to restrict bathroom and changing facility use by transgender people in January 2017. The bill would have restricted the use of restrooms and changing facilities to the individual's sex, which the bill defined as the biological assignation at birth. In addition, the bill would have required public school principals to inform guardians of minors if the minor asked "to be recognized or treated as the opposite sex" within twenty-four hours of the request.

Committee assignments

  • House Finance Committee
  • House Counties, Cities, and Towns Committee
  • House Science and Technology Committee

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.


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. He formally announced his candidacy on January 16, 2012, emailing supporters saying, "I can beat Tim Kaine," the presumptive Democratic nominee for the seat. He lost in the June 12, 2012, Republican primary, coming in third out of four candidates with only 7 percent of the vote.

House of Representatives

In February 2014, Marshall declared his candidacy for the District 10 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives being vacated by retiring Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA), calling the other leading Republican challenger Barbara Comstock weak on gun rights. Comstock defeated Marshall and four other challengers in the April 2014 Republican primary with 54% of the vote. In the run-up to the election, Comstock spent $240,000, more than sixteen times the spending of Marshall, who came in second place with 28% of the vote.

Personal life

Marshall is married to Catherine Ann Fonseca, with whom he has five children: Teresa, Christopher, Mary Clare, Joseph, and Thomas.

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