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Anti-LGBTQ Air Force veteran targets Trans lawmaker in Virginia race

Stone, a U.S. Air Force veteran is concerned LGBTQ laws were too narrowly focused and not written with the interests of most Virginians

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Virginia State Delegate Danica Roem (D-Manassas) (Campaign selfie photo 2021 via Roem Facebook)

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. – A Republican hopeful challenging Trans Virginia State Delegate Danica Roem (D-Manassas) stated in a recent interview that the three-term lawmaker “over-promised and under-delivered” on a core campaign pledge to reduce congestion along Route 28.

Christopher Stone, the Republican nominee who Roem will face in her reelection bid this November, told the Washington Blade the bottom line is Route 28 still isn’t “fixed.”

“You campaigned for it in 2017, in 2019 and in 2021,” he argued. “And you can’t say you’ve done anything other than a study.”  

Roem defended her infrastructure record, saying while a study had to be conducted, some improvements were already completed, such as reduced traffic signals at key busy intersections. She said these changes have reduced wait times and pollution from idling engines.

“That speeds up the commute without anyone having to lose their business, front property or homes. And we know from the study’s data that my plan will make your commute quicker, safer and greener,” Roem told the Blade. “Christopher Stone has no plan for fixing Route 28.”

Stone, however, challenged “improved light signaling” doesn’t necessarily “fix” or widen Route 28 to address commuter concerns. Roem pointed out the widening of Route 28 in Centreville is currently underway.

“I voted last year for authorization for the widening to go forward,” she said. “It is happening right before your very eyes in Centreville. You cannot tell me in good faith that we have not done anything to fix 28. It is being done right now.”

She added she is currently “chasing down the dollars” to bring further infrastructure to Manassas Park.

Expanded Medicaid, LGBTQ rights among Roem’s legislative victories

Roem in 2017 became the first openly transgender person elected and seated in a state legislature in the U.S.

Her four years in office have been busy ones. She has either sponsored or co-sponsored legislation that addressed discrimination, expanded Medicaid and helped make Virginia more inclusive.

LGBTQ Victory Fund Vice President of Political Programs Sean Meloy said Roem’s record clearly shows “she’s fulfilling her campaign promises and striving to create a more inclusive Virginia.” Meloy noted Roem has done considerable work — expanding healthcare and passing numerous LGBTQ-friendly bills — for her constituents since her 2017 election.

“While Del. Roem is hard at work, her opponent has decried mask mandates, supports extremist protesters in Loudoun County and called for an investigation of the 2020 election,” Meloy said. “Virginia voters are savvy, and they know when a candidate has their backs — which is why they’ve elected Del. Roem twice and will reelect her once again this November.”

Stone said he’s running for office because he felt laws the General Assembly has passed in the last few years benefitted “special interests” and not Virginians as a whole.

Stone and his wife moved to Prince William County from Fairfax County in 2013 because they were planning on having children and a friend said it was a good place to raise them. They now have two children who are 5 and 6-years-old, and the eldest is in his second year in the county’s school system.

“And she loves it,” Stone said proudly, especially now that she gets to return to in-person classes even though she has to wear a mask.

Stone, a U.S. Air Force veteran and former graduate school professor, said his wife encouraged him to run for office “and stop complaining.” He was concerned that LGBTQ laws in particular were too narrowly focused and not written with the interests of most Virginians in mind.

“A lot of people that I talk to are concerned that the way the laws are written you are protecting one group and infringing upon the constitutional freedoms of another,” he said, adding that allowing for exemptions for religious beliefs could be one way to make the laws more equitable.

“But you don’t just ignore those people,” he added. “You accommodate both sides. I don’t like laws aimed at a single group or giving protections to one side. That is how a lot of people see LGBTQ laws.”

Stone also discussed his opposition to marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples, stating judges shouldn’t legislate from the bench.

He pointed out the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1857 decision in the Dred Scott case, which said slaves and their descendants were not American citizens, as an example of the harm judges “legislating from the bench” could do. The 13th and 14th Amendments overturned the ruling. But Roem, a life-long Virginian, pointed out Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v. Virginia were two court cases with Virginia ties that made the state and the country a step more inclusive.

“If you have marriage equality, you can’t possibly tell an LGBTQ couple that they can’t adopt children,” Roem said. “What a horrible thing to tell any loving parent. We already litigated the hell out of this.”

For Roem, times have changed and so have the people of Virginia.

“If you are exclusionary like my challenger, then you are going to lose,” she said. “The people of the 13th district aren’t putting up with this any more.”

Virginia

Virginia gubernatorial race pretty much a toss-up says new polling data

The poll conducted Sept. 7-13, included 1,000 Virginia adults. Among likely voters, 48 percent favored Youngkin & 43 percent backed McAuliffe

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Terry McAuliffe (L) Glenn Youngkin (R) LA Blade file photos

FREDERICKSBURG Va. – A new poll released University of Mary Washington-Research America Inc. Wednesday shows the Republican candidate for governor, former Carlyle Group co-CEO Glenn Youngkin is ahead of former Democratic Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.

The poll, conducted by Research America Inc. Sept. 7-13, included 1,000 Virginia adults. Of those, 885 were registered voters and 528 were likely voters, according to a news release from the University of Mary Washington.

Among likely voters, 48 percent favored Youngkin and 43 percent backed McAuliffe.

Among registered voters in the survey, McAuliffe had the support of 46 percent, compared to 41 percent for Youngkin. In the entire survey, 43 percent backed McAuliffe compared to 38 percent favoring Youngkin.

Liberation Party candidate Princess Blanding received the support of 2 percent of likely voters, with others undecided.

“To borrow from Mark Twain, the reports of the end of Virginia’s status as a swing state are greatly exaggerated,” said Stephen J. Farnsworth, professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington and director of UMW’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies. “The large number of undecided voters at this stage demonstrates that either major party candidate can become the next governor of Virginia.”

The survey also revealed very close contests for the other statewide offices this year. In the race for lieutenant governor, Winsome Sears (R) was supported by 47 percent of likely voters, compared to 41 percent for Democratic candidate Hala Ayala. In the race for attorney general, incumbent Mark Herring (D) had the support of 42 percent, compared to 46 percent for Jason Miyares, a Republican. The survey results from both of these contests are also within the margin of error.

Ralph Northam (D), the current governor, is ineligible to run for re-election this year because of term limits. McAuliffe, who held the post from 2014 to 2018, waited four years to vie for office again.

The Republican hopeful however, has staked out anti-LGBTQ policies including supporting a Loudoun County public school teacher who is refusing to recognize pronouns of transgender students, falsely claiming the teacher’s views are “in the best interest of the children.”

Youngkin, the former CO-CEO of the Alexandria, Virginia based Carlyle Group, an American multinational private equity, alternative asset management and financial services corporation, has also said he does not support allowing transgender children to play on sports teams that are consistent with their gender identity.

He has refused to say whether he supports marriage equality, which was legalized nationwide six years ago. Additionally he has expressed support for religious exemption laws that allow provide a license to discriminate against the LGBTQ community. He criticized a tweet by then Governor McAuliffe—who vetoed anti-LGBTQ exemption laws in both 2016 and 2017—which condemned such laws and called to “expand protections for LGBTQ+ Virginians, not dismantle them.”

Youngkin’s anti-LGBTQ animus includes that he had pledged to use “every ounce of authority I have” if elected to “protect Virginians’ First Amendment right to freely live out their faith.” Anti-LGBTQ activists have used religious beliefs to argue for the right to discriminate.

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Virginia

Virginia governor’s race: Anti-LGBTQ+ GOP candidate closes gap

The poll found that 50% of likely voters support Democrat Terry McAuliffe, compared to 47% who support Republican Glenn Youngkin

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Terry McAuliffe & Glenn Youngkin (Photo composite via Equality Virginia)

WASHINGTON – The race to replace incumbent Democratic Governor Ralph Northam, who is ineligible to run for reelection as the Virginia constitution prohibits consecutive terms of the state’s chief executive, has moved into a near tie according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll released Friday.

The poll found that 50 percent of likely voters support Democrat Terry McAuliffe, compared to 47 percent who support Republican Glenn Youngkin. The Post noted that among registered voters, McAuliffe’s support drops slightly to 49 percent, compared to 43 percent for Youngkin. 

The results among likely voters are within the poll’s 4.5-point margin of error. When considering polling results among registered voters, McAuliffe’s lead is just outside the survey’s margin of error, the survey found.

The two major party candidates for Governor of Virginia held a debate this past Thursday  at the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, located in southwestern Virginia, on a variety of issues that included vaccine mandates, economic development, abortion access and policing.

The candidates are expected to debate again on Sept. 28 at George Mason University, in suburban Fairfax County in Northern Virginia just outside the District of Columbia.

According to the Washington Post-Schar School poll, twenty-five percent of registered voters cited the economy as the priority in their choice for governor. Additionally, another 17 percent cited the coronavirus pandemic as the top issue, then 14 percent labeled education number once concern with 11 percent prioritizing crime and public safety.

Although the poll did not specifically address LGBTQ+ issues, Equality for the Commonwealth’s queer residents has very much played a central role in the campaign. In Thursday’s debate, when moderator Susan Page asked if local school boards should be allowed to reject Virginia Department of Education “model policies” developed as part of a state law passed last year to protect trans and non-binary students from discrimination, McAuliffe said school boards “should be making their own decisions.”

This soft support for the law that Gov. Ralph Northam signed is in contrast to the Human Rights Campaign’s endorsement this week for his previous work when he formerly held governorship that included signing an executive order prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ state employees and vetoing anti-LGBTQ bills. 

The Virginia constitution while prohibiting consecutive terms, allows for election to the governor’s chair in non-sequential terms.

The Republican hopeful however, has staked out anti-LGBTQ policies including supporting a Loudoun County public school teacher who is refusing to recognize pronouns of transgender students, falsely claiming the teacher’s views are “in the best interest of the children.”

Youngkin, the former CO-CEO of the Alexandria, Virginia based Carlyle Group, an American multinational private equity, alternative asset management and financial services corporation, has also said he does not support allowing transgender children to play on sports teams that are consistent with their gender identity.

He has refused to say whether he supports marriage equality, which was legalized nationwide six years ago. Additionally he has expressed support for religious exemption laws that allow provide a license to discriminate against the LGBTQ community. He criticized a tweet by then Governor McAuliffe—who vetoed anti-LGBTQ exemption laws in both 2016 and 2017—which condemned such laws and called to “expand protections for LGBTQ+ Virginians, not dismantle them.”

Youngkin’s anti-LGBTQ animus includes that he had pledged to use “every ounce of authority I have” if elected to “protect Virginians’ First Amendment right to freely live out their faith.” Anti-LGBTQ activists have used religious beliefs to argue for the right to discriminate.

Early voting in Virginia began on Friday for the gubernatorial election and the two campaigns are now escalating their efforts to garner support as the final stretch for the race begins in earnest.

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Virginia

Virginia governor candidate: School boards should set policies on Trans kids

Asked should school boards be allowed to reject policies to protect trans kids- school boards “should be making their own decisions” he said

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Democrat Terry McAuliffe (Washington Blade photo by Lee Whitman)

GRUNDY, Va. – Democrat Terry McAuliffe on Thursday hotly debated Republican challenger Glenn Youngkin at the Appalachian School of Law in southwestern Virginia on a variety of issues that include vaccine mandates, economic development, abortion access and policing. The former Virginia governor’s support for a law that protects transgender students, however, seemed less clear.

When moderator Susan Page asked if local school boards should be allowed to reject Virginia Department of Education “model policies” developed as part of a state law passed last year to protect trans and non-binary students from discrimination, McAuliffe said school boards “should be making their own decisions.”

This soft support for the law that Gov. Ralph Northam signed is in contrast to the Human Rights Campaign’s endorsement this week for his work as governor that includes signing an executive order prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ state employees and vetoing anti-LGBTQ bills. 

HRC called out Youngkin, a former business executive and vocal Trump supporter, for “anti-LGBTQ and transphobic language” during his campaign. (HRC in 2019 named the Carlyle Group, the private equity company that Youngkin previously ran, as a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality” in its annual Corporate Equality Index.)

Younkin has supported Tanner Cross, a Loudoun County elementary school teacher who was suspended in June after he spoke against the Virginia Department of Education policy known as Policy 8040. The Virginia Supreme Court last month supported Cross’ reinstatement on First Amendment grounds.

“As governor, I will stand up for teachers like Tanner Cross,” the Republican candidate tweeted.

Youngkin also told Fox News the school board was trying to “cancel” Cross “simply for expressing his views that are in the best interests of the children and expressing his faith.”

But state Del. Danica Roem (D-Prince William County), one of the bill’s co-sponsors, told the Washington Blade in an earlier interview that the 2020 law passed with bipartisan support and most school boards are acting in accordance with the nondiscrimination law.

“Loudoun is catching headlines, but look at all of the other school districts who have adopted this without controversy,” said Roem, who in 2018 became the first openly trans person seated in a state legislature in the U.S. “They are acting in compliance with Department of Education best practices for how to humanely treat transgender kids in schools.”

McAuliffe, after stating that decisions regarding implementing trans student protections should be left to local school boards, said he hated seeing all of the “divisiveness” and “children being demonized.” He then pivoted to his talking points about increasing both teacher pay and broadband access for students.

Early in-person voting in Virginia is underway and lasts until Oct. 30. Election day is Nov. 2.

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