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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 10, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 45
Election 2017: Trans woman beats Virginia's 'chief homophobe'

Dems sweep to victory in VA statewide races
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Election 2017: Trans woman beats Virginia's 'chief homophobe'

Dems sweep to victory in VA statewide races

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A Transgender woman handily defeated Virginia's self-proclaimed 'chief homophobe' in an election for a seat in Virginia's House of Delegates, becoming the first out Trans person elected to public office in her state.

Danica Roem, a Democrat, was elected to represent a suburban district in Virginia's Prince William County. The district had been represented for 26 years by incumbent Republican Robert G. Marshall.

Marshall openly disrespected Roem, refusing to debate her and using male pronouns when referring to her in his speeches. Earlier this year he introduced legislation barring Trans people from gender- appropriate restrooms. Although the bill died in committee, he proclaimed himself Virginia's 'chief homophobe.'

'Discrimination is a disqualifier,' Roem told an election night gathering. 'This is about the people of the 13th?District disregarding fear tactics, disregarding phobias?. . . where we celebrate you because of who you are, not despite it.'

Roem out-fundraised Marshall 3-to-1, with nearly $500,000 in donations, much of it coming from LGBT activists across the country. Her campaign was relentless, knocking on doors more than 75,000 times in a district with 52,471 registered voters. Roem also participated in numerous public appearances and interviews, and maintained a steady social media presence.

Roem accused Marshall of being 'a mirror' of Donald Trump, and convinced voters he was more concerned with advancing right-wing causes than dealing with local problems.

As election results came in, Roem took an early lead, and she ended up nearly nine points ahead of Marshall when all precincts had reported. Her win was so convincing that media called the election for her even before the Virginia governor's race was called.

'It's kind of like Barack [Obama] winning the presidential election. I'm really proud of Virginia,' said Roem voter John Coughlin, 63, a realtor in Manassas. 'I don't care about religious issues. I don't care about items that are big on [Marshall's] agenda. He should be more mainstream.'

Stephen J. Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, said Roem's victory shows 'that cultural wars don't win elections like they used to.'

'Virginia has changed so rapidly over the past 20 years. It's gone from a state where no politician would dare to condemn the Confederacy to a state where a suburban district would elect a transgender candidate,' Farnsworth said. 'The Old Dominion gives way to a very different New Dominion.'

Democrats ended up sweeping all three statewide offices in Virginia.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam defeated Republican Ed Gillespie by nine points, in spite of a lackluster, middle-of-the-road campaign. African-American Democrat Justin Fairfax was elected lieutenant governor, and Mark Herring was elected Virginia attorney general.

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Election 2017: Trans woman beats Virginia's 'chief homophobe'

Dems sweep to victory in VA statewide races

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