Metro Weekly

Gay Virginia Delegate Mark Levine announces run for lieutenant governor

A progressive Democrat, Levine would be the first LGBTQ and first Jewish person elected to statewide office in Virginia

mark levine, delegate, virginia, lieutenant governor, gay
Del. Mark Levine – Photo: Campboypr, via Wikimedia

Virginia Del. Mark Levine (D-Alexandria), a gay three-term lawmaker, intends to run for lieutenant governor of Virginia in 2021.

If elected, Levine would be the first openly LGBTQ statewide-elected official in the history of Virginia, as well as the first openly gay lieutenant governor to serve in any of the 50 states. He would also make history as the first Jewish person elected statewide in the commonwealth.

Levine, one of the more progressive members of the Virginia General Assembly, has championed issues such as electoral reform, racial justice, gun violence, criminal justice reform, economic opportunity, and anti-discrimination laws. 

“Injustice really gets under my skin,” Levine said in a press release announcing his intention to run. “All our lives we’ve been told ‘that’s just the way things are.’ But I’ve found — if you’re persistent and creative, get the details right, and work with others of good will — even the toughest problems can be solved. So when I hear something is ‘impossible,’ that’s my cue to get to work!”

Levine, whose sister was murdered by her husband in 1996, has also been a longtime advocate for survivors of sexual and domestic violence. The first bill he ever drafted, as an activist, was a Tennessee law to protect victims of domestic violence and their children. That law passed unanimously.

Levine has also been an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights since 1999, having co-founded the organization Marriage Equality California, as well as composing the first “full equality” bill introduced in a state legislature, and helping defend D.C.’s marriage equality law after it passed in 2009. He later moved to Virginia to work on the Hill, serving as legislative counsel for U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.).

See also: Virginia governor signs LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections into law

After being sworn in as a delegate in 2016, Levine co-founded the Virginia Transparency Caucus, advocating for various reforms that ultimately forced lawmakers to record, live-stream, and archive the votes and debates of every committee and subcommittee in the General Assembly.

That change allowed ordinary Virginians would be able to keep track of lawmakers’ machinations without having to travel to the State Capitol in Richmond, thereby making it easier for citizens to hold their elected officials accountable for their actions.

Levine has vowed to use his power as lieutenant governor to bring ordinary Virginians throughout the commonwealth closer to their government, pushing for policies that will improve their lives.

“Virginia needs a full-time lieutenant governor,” Levine said in a statement. “If elected, I would visit every one of Virginia’s 133 counties and cities during my term and assist the Governor in connecting with everyday Virginians all across the Commonwealth. To heed their voices, we must hear them first.”

Read more:

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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