EV PAC, Equality Virginia’s political action committee, announced on Thursday that it will donate $50,000 to the Virginia House of Delegates’ Democratic Caucus ahead of the upcoming November election.
On Nov. 2, Virginia voters will elect a new governor and lieutenant governor, decide whether to re-elect Attorney General Mark Herring (D), and pick a delegate, in each of the state’s 100 house districts, to represent them in Richmond.
Since Democrats won control of the House of Delegates and the Senate — and already occupied the governor’s mansion — in the 2019 elections, Virginia has passed a wave of pro-equality legislation, including the Virginia Values Act, a comprehensive nondiscrimination law; a ban on conversion therapy; changes that allow transgender people to change their names and gender markers on state IDs; protections for LGBTQ students in schools; a bill modernizing the commonwealth’s HIV laws; and a ban on defendants utilizing the LGBTQ “panic” defense to justify more lenient sentences for violent crimes.
As such, it makes sense that the state’s top LGBTQ rights organization would financially support the campaigns pro-equality delegates who were instrumental in passing these pro-LGBTQ laws. By keeping Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax Station) as Speaker of the House, EV PAC believes it can ensure it maintains or builds on the progress that has been made over the past two years.
At the same time, as the election approaches, Republican candidates for statewide office have seized on some of Democrats’ accomplishments as wedge issues they hope to exploit in the hope of turning out the GOP base in an off-year election. For instance, Glenn Youngkin, the Republican nominee for governor, has seized upon unrest at school board meetings throughout the commonwealth — led by parents and conservative activists who balk at the adoption of pro-LGBTQ nondiscrimination policies in schools — as one of several hot-button issues motivating his most ardent supporters to the polls.
Depending on the makeup of the next legislature and the next governor of the commonwealth, some of the protections LGBTQ people in Virginia enjoy could easily be stripped away by overzealous lawmakers who are overly —- to the will of conservative interest groups like the Virginia Family Foundation, the Family Research Council, or Alliance Defending Freedom.
“The stakes are incredibly high for LGBTQ Virginians this November and it is imperative that Eileen Filler-Corn remain Speaker,” Vee Lamneck, the executive director of Equality Virginia Advocates, the advocacy arm of Equality Virginia, said in a statement. “This donation helps to keep the House majority in the hands of pro-equality champions who will maintain important nondiscrimination protections and support transgender and nonbinary students. We’ve passed significant and lifesaving legislation since 2020 and we must continue this momentum to create a safer and more equitable state for everyone.”
In addition to the $50,000 contribution, Equality Virginia Advocates will announce on Friday the endorsements of 47 incumbent delegates who have demonstrated a commitment to LGBTQ equality. The organization will also partner with Virginia residents who are members of the Human Rights Campaign to hold a “Day of Action,” where volunteers will take part in door-to-door canvassing on behalf of endorsed candidates in highly contested races, on Saturday, Oct. 9.
Democratic House leaders thanked EV PAC for its support in the upcoming election.
“This incredible investment from Equality Virginia is crucial to keeping LGBTQ advocates in control of the House of Delegates,” Filler-Corn said in a statement. “We must build on the progress that we have made in recent years. I want to thank the team at Equality Virginia for helping us in this fight, and I look forward to working with them to continue building a more open and just Commonwealth.”
“Virginia is the number one state for business thanks to the pro-equality legislation that was passed over the last two years,” House Majority Leader Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) said in a statement. “People want to live and work in communities that are welcoming and safe for everyone. The commonwealth needs elected leaders who will fight for LGBTQ equality.”
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