Delegate Robert G. Marshall, who wrote Virginia’s notorious anti-trans “bathroom bill,” lost his seat in the Virginia state legislature last night to Danica Roem, making history as the first openly trans person elected to a state legislature in the United States.
The race between Roem, 33, and Marshall, 73 exposed the nation’s deep fault lines over LGBT+ rights.
Virginia’s “Chief Homophobe”
Marshall is notorious for introducing anti-LGBT+ legislation in the United States.
After the United States Congress repealed the federal ban on gays in the military, Marshall proposed a local measure to ban openly gay people from serving in the Virginia National Guard.
More recently, in 2015 he proposed an extremely controversial bill that would legalize anti-LGBT+ segregation in private spaces including hotels, restaurants, businesses, schools, government agencies and hospitals.
And in 2016, he put forth a measure that would bar trans children from using the school bathroom that aligns with their gender identity and require principals to out gender-nonconforming students to their parents.
Marshall’s avowed hatred of LGBT+ people—he once called himself the state’s “chief homophobe”—inspired Roem, a journalist from Northern Virginia, to run for his seat.
Marshall repeatedly used anti-trans rhetoric on the campaign trail, even refusing to recognize Roem as a woman.
At one point he asked a reporter, “Did Danica’s DNA change?”
In response, Roem embraced her identity in a remarkable ad:
“To every person who’s ever been singled out, who’s ever been stigmatized, who’s ever needed someone to stand up for them when they didn’t have a voice of their own…this one’s for you,” said Roem.
Additionally, throughout her campaign Roem avoided criticizing Marshall, who she noted will be a constituent of hers once she takes office in January.
“I campaigned on a platform of building up our infrastructure and not tearing down each other,” she said.
She also emphasized the importance of a free and independent press, given her experience as a reporter in northern Virginia, which she characterized as important preparation for public office.
“Facts matter, and alternative facts are B.S.”
Roem Ousts Marshall By Near Double-Digit Margin
In the election Roem trounced Marshall, winning over a substantial portion of Republican voters in the right-leaning northern Virginia district.
She also outraised Marshall with help from national LGBT+ rights groups.
Her landslide is part of a broader Democratic wave that swept across the United States on Tuesday, carrying Democrats to victory on a wide variety of levels of government. This wave included Andrea Jenkins, who became the first trans person of color elected to any government position in the United States.
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