President Joe Biden has endorsed Virginia Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas), the first out transgender person to ever be elected to a state legislature, in her second re-election bid.
Ahead of Virginia’s hotly contested statewide and House of Delegate elections this November, Biden endorsed Roem and 20 other Democratic candidates for office, casting their victories as an important step to continuing the progress made over the past two years.
“Building back better starts in the states,” the president tweeted. “Since flipping the legislature in 2019, Virginia Democrats have been a model of progress — including helping us vaccinate folks to beat the pandemic. “To keep our progress, we must elect [Democratic gubernatorial nominee] @TerryMcAuliffe and Democrats up and down the ballot.”
Roem was first elected in 2017, defeating former Del. Bob Marshall (R-Manassas), one of the co-author’s of Virginia’s now-defunct constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, who championed himself as the state’s “chief homophobe.”
She was re-elected in 2019, and is often attacked by political opponents for her gender identity as much as her policy positions on local issues like roads, transportation, lunch “shaming” of poor children in schools, and infrastructure.
Since gaining control of the legislature in 2020, Virginia Democrats have pushed a host of progressive legislation, expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, raising the minimum wage, and approving LGBTQ protections.
Some of the pro-LGBTQ measures they passed included legislation requiring school boards to adopt their own policies that affirm the existence of transgender students and recognize their gender identity, passed a ban on conversion therapy for minors, passed a law prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ individuals in employment, housing and public accommodations, and banned criminal defendants from using the gay and trans “panic” defense to argue for lesser sentences.
Democrats have argued that the November election is crucial to sustaining the progress, and have sought to link Republican nominees for office to former President Trump.
LGBTQ advocates, in particular, have attacked GOP gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin, Attorney General nominee Jason Miyares, and several candidates for the House of Delegates in Northern Virginia over their opposition to marriage equality, transgender rights, and anti-discrimination laws, casting them as threats who might seek to roll back some of the recently-won protections in the commonwealth.
Among those endorsed alongside Roem are House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (Fairfax Station), Delegates Lashresce Aird (Petersburg), Alex Askew (Virginia Beach), Joshua Cole (Stafford), Kelly Fowler (Virginia Beach), Wendy Gooditis (Boyce), Nancy Guy (Virginia Beach), Elizabeth Guzman (Dale City), Dan Helmer (Fairfax Station), Candi King (Dumfries), Martha Mugler (Hampton), Mike Mullin (Newport News), Shelly Simonds (Newport News), Schuyler VanValkenburg (Henrico), and Rodney Willett (Henrico), as well as several Democrats challenging incumbent Republican delegates.
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