Danica Roem, the nation’s first openly transgender state legislator, faces an election opponent who is being funded by anti-LGBTQ organizations.
Roem, a Democrat, made history when she was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2017. She is seeking re-election this November, and will face Republican Kelly McGinn.
McGinn — no stranger to anti-LGBTQ sentiments — is reportedly being funded by a number of anti-LGBTQ organizations and people, the Daily Beast reports.
The publication uncovered donations from the Eagle Forum, a founding member of the Virginia Catholic Conference, and employees and the president of the Religious Freedom Institute.
The Eagle Forum, which opposes same-sex marriage and “applauded” Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military, donated $2,000 to McGinn. They told Daily Beast that they were “impressed” with McGinn’s conservative principles, before calling transgender athletes who compete according to their gender identity as “awful and unfair.”
She also gained $500 from Religious Freedom Institute employees, and a further $250 from the group’s president. The group works to make “religious freedom a priority for governments, civil society, religious communities, businesses, and the general public.” Religious freedom has increasingly been used to justify discrimination against LGBTQ people, and Thomas Farr, RFI’s president, has argued against passage of the pro-LGBTQ Equality Act.
McGinn received an additional donation from a former member of the Virginia Catholic Conference board, which opposed marriage equality and which argued that transgender people have “no place in the Catholic understanding of the human person.”
The various anti-LGBTQ individuals and organizations supporting McGinn should come as no surprise — she has previously called marriage equality a “morally repugnant practice,” one that is comparable to slavery.
She was also a Congressional staffer for anti-LGBTQ former Republican senator Sam Brownback, and once signed a letter urging conservative Catholics to be less “civil” in voicing their anti-LGBTQ views.
“They stand against the teachings of the Church and in favor of morally repugnant practices that are counter to the common good and that should be unwelcome in a just or even polite society, the letter said.
And in 2011, she called a law that would have banned discrimination against LGBTQ people by adoption agencies “absurd.”
“Children who are placed for adoption are uniquely in need of the most secure and loving parents that are available because they will already have endured the loss of their birth parents,” she wrote in testimony. She added, “Similarly, although redefining family, marriage, and parenthood has become a national obsession, one man and one woman joined in marriage remain the most successful paradigmatic family in which to place a child.”
On her campaign website, Daily Beast notes that McGinn calls herself a moderate and doesn’t mention her anti-LGBTQ beliefs.
Speaking to the Daily Beast, Roem said she was “absolutely prepared to defend my public record in depth, detail, and substance” during the campaign, but also to “fight against any form of hate speech, against any form of anti-LGBTQ bigotry—no matter who it comes from—that is designed to denigrate the people I have been elected to serve.”
In a statement, the Human Rights Campaign said McGinn’s previous comments “make her homophobia clear and explicit.”
“McGinn is definitely attempting not to be as transparent as she should be with voters on LGBTQ issues,” HRC’s Lucas Acosta told Daily Beast. “She might be able to pretend she’s a moderate Republican, when in actuality her past statements prove she is completely out of step with the mainstream Republican party—let alone mainstream America—on LGBTQ issues.”