As Election Day approaches, one of the year’s most pivotal elections for LGBTQ people is taking place in Virginia.
Two years ago, Virginia made history by electing its first-ever openly lesbian and openly trans members of the House of Delegates. But in 2019, LGBTQ rights remain at a standstill in the state, largely because of the legislature’s slight Republican majority. Residents are ready to say that enough is enough.
“We believe that Virginia’s at a turning point for people who live in that state, for LGBTQ people,” Alphonso David, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in an August interview, per The Washington Post.
There are still no statewide laws in Virginia to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in housing, work, or public spaces. The state’s hate-crime law also doesn’t cover gay or transgender people. While non-discrimination protections have passed the Senate several years in a row, the House continuously refuses to consider these laws.
As a result, LGBTQ advocates are determined to elect new lawmakers in Virginia on November 5.
“There are real people in Virginia who need these protections,” David explained. “Because we have members who are refusing to bring these pieces of legislation to the floor, we are taking affirmative steps to remove them from office.”
In particular, advocates are hoping to oust Speaker Kirk Cox and House Minority Leader Tim Hugo. All 100 seats in the House of Delegates and all 40 in the Senate are up for election.
Two history-making LGBTQ candidates are running for reelection. Dawn Adams was elected as the first openly lesbian member of the House of Delegates in 2017. Danica Roem became the first openly trans member of the House in 2017.
The Human Rights Campaign has also backed 27 Democrats and “pro-equality” candidates in Virginia. This is the most investment that the HRC has ever made into a state-level race.
“This General Assembly, we have a chance to do better,” James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia Advocates, wrote. “We are well past the point of window-dressing such an important issue.”