After millions of dollars spent by both parties to flip seats in the Virginia Senate, the makeup of the upper chamber remains unchanged, while Democrats made very modest gains in the House of Delegates.
All Senate incumbents won re-election, with Republicans retaining four open seats in Virginia Beach and the Richmond suburbs, and Democrats retaining an open seat in Prince William County.
The House of Delegates saw only three seats change hands, with Republicans gaining a seat in the Woodbridge/Quantico area, and Democrats picking up two in seats, one in Herndon and another in the Sterling/Dulles area.
The election results mean that, effectively, the situation in Richmond vis-a-vis LGBT rights legislation remains unchanged, as Republicans still control both chambers of the legislature. While Senate Republicans have previously been open to considering legislation that advances LGBT rights, the House has steadfastly opposed to any bills that grant LGBT protections.
Still, despite the return of vehemently anti-gay politicians like Sen. Dick Black (R-Leesburg) and Del. Bob Marshall (R-Manassas Park), there are some silver linings in this year’s election results.
“While the Republican-Democratic composition only changed by one seat, we picked up three new supportive lawmakers,” says James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia, celebrating the victories of newly-elected Delegates Jennifer Boysko in Herndon, John Bell in Sterling and Steve Heretick in Portsmouth. Heretick had previously ousted anti-gay Democrat Johnny Joannou in this year’s primary election.
Parrish also says his organization, as it has in all past legislative sessions, will continue to work with Republicans in control of the Senate to pass workplace nondiscrimination protections. Equality Virginia will also try to lobby several new Republican senators to try and convince them of the importance of nondiscrimination measures, he says.
“I’m happy that we still have the opportunity to work with a bipartisan Senate to get things done for LGBT Virginians,” Parrish says. “And we’ve increased the number of LGBT-supportive candidates in the House.”
Unrelated to the General Assembly seats, LGBT advocates also enjoyed a small measure of victory in Loudoun County, where Democrat Koran Saines managed to win the seat for the Sterling District on the county Board of Supervisors. The man he defeated, incumbent Eugene Delgaudio, is the founder of Public Advocate of the United States, has been quite vocal in campaigning against LGBT rights. Saines’ victory also marked a victory for Democrats, who gained three seats, up from zero, on the nine-person Board of Supervisors. Additionally, Saines and newly-elected Board Chair Phyllis Randall, also a Democrat, made history by becoming the first two African-Americans elected to the county board.
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