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National Group Targets Speaker Cox Over LGTBQ Issues

Delegate Danica Roem at a press conference on Thursday
Delegate Danica Roem at a press conference on Thursday. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

A national LGTBQ rights group is investing at least $250,000 to unseat Republicans from the majority in the General Assembly. 

In addition to the funding, the Washington D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign is adding at least ten on-the-ground staff to help LGTBQ-friendly Democrats win 27 close races. 

Del. Danica Roem (D-Prince William), the first openly transgender lawmaker in any state legislature, said Republicans have stood in the way of passing anti-discrimination laws for years.

“You should welcomed, celebrated, respected, and protected here because of who you are, not despite it, and not for what discriminatory politicians tell you you’re supposed to be,” Roem said at a press conference on Thursday.  

The group’s top target is Republican Speaker of the House Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), who they say has scuttled attempts to pass anti-discrimination bills by parking them in committees controlled by conservative Republicans.

A spokesperson for Cox did not respond to requests for comment. Cox has previously said he was following normal procedural rules. 

Activists tried unsuccessfully to pass bills banning discrimination in housing and employment this year. They believe they have enough Republican votes to pass the bills if they were to make it to a full floor vote.

Polling commissioned by the rights group Equality Virginia found the legislation were broadly popular among a majority of Virginians; the bills have cleared the GOP-controlled Senate in recent years. 

House Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) said the caucus was still formulating equality-related bills it would push next session. She declined to say whether she would back legislation that would require LGBT curriculums to be taught in public schools; four states have now passed laws to that effect.  

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Ben Paviour covers courts and criminal justice for VPM News with a focus on accountability.
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