More than a dozen openly LGBTQ candidates are on the ballot in Virginia on Nov. 7.
State Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) is running against Republican Bill Woolf in the newly redistricted Senate District 30 that includes western Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.
Roem in 2018 became the first openly transgender person seated in a state legislature in the U.S. after she defeated then-state Del. Bob Marshall, a prominent LGBTQ rights opponent who co-wrote Virginia’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Roem would become Virginia’s first out trans state senator if she defeats Woolf.
Woolf supports a bill that would require school personnel to out trans students to their parents. The Republican Party of Virginia has highlighted this position in ads in support of Woolf.
“Thank you for reminding me why I won three elections in this district in Prince William County, which is the most diverse county in all of Virginia and the 10th most nationally where we welcome everyone because of who they are, not despite it, no matter what you look like, where you come from, how you worship, if you do, or who you love because you should be able to thrive here because of who you are, never despite it,” said Roem on Sept. 28 in response to a woman who heckled her during a debate with Woolf that took place at Metz Middle School in Manassas.
Gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) is running for re-election in Senate District 39. State Del. Mark Sickles (D-Fairfax County), who is also gay, is running for re-election in House District 43.
Former state Del. Joshua Cole, who identifies as bisexual, is running against Republican Lee Peters in House District 65. State Del. Kelly Convirs-Fowler (D-Virginia Beach), who came out as bisexual last year at Hampton Roads Pride, will face Republican Mike Karslake and independent Nicholas Olenik.
State Del. Marcia “Cia” Price (D-Newport News), a Black woman who identifies as pansexual, is running for re-election in House District 85.
Adele McClure, a queer Democrat, is running to represent House District 2 that includes portions of Arlington County. Laura Jane Cohen, a bisexual woman who is a member of the Fairfax County School Board, is a House of Delegates candidate in House District 15.
Rozia Henson, a gay federal contractor who works for the Department of Homeland Security, is running in House District 19. Zach Coltrain, a gay Gen Zer, is running against state Del. Barry Knight (R-Virginia Beach) in House District 98.
LPAC has endorsed Jade Harris, a Rockbridge County Democrat who is running to represent Senate District 3. Harris’ website notes trans rights are part of their platform.
“Protecting trans rights, repealing right to work, strengthening unions and supporting our farmers are just a few of my legislative priorities,” reads the website. “I am dedicated to addressing the revitalization of our state’s infrastructure, fostering a favorable environment for job creation, and supporting our public education system.”
Republicans currently control the House by a 51-46 margin, while Democrats have a 21-19 majority in the state Senate.
Senate Democrats have successfully blocked anti-LGBTQ bills that Republicans have introduced since Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin took office in January 2022.
The Virginia Department of Education in July released new guidelines for trans and nonbinary students that activists and their supporters have sharply criticized. They fear that Republicans will curtail LGBTQ rights in the state if they regain control of both houses of the General Assembly on Nov. 7.
“Time and time again, anti-equality lawmakers and the Youngkin administration have made it clear that they will continue to disrespect and disregard the lives and lived experience of LGBTQ+ people within Virginia,” said Equality Virginia PAC Executive Director Narissa Rahaman in August when her organization and the Human Rights Campaign endorsed Roem, Ebbin and other “pro-equality champions.”
“We must elect pro-equality champions who will secure and strengthen our freedoms,” added Rahaman. “We have that chance as the eyes of the nation are on us this November.”
The LGBTQ+ Victory Fund has endorsed Fairfax County School Board Vice Chair Karl Frisch and Fairfax County School Board candidates Robyn Lady and Kyle McDaniel, who identify as lesbian and bisexual respectively.
Michael Pruitt would become the first openly bisexual man elected to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors if he were to win on Nov. 7. Blacksburg Town Councilman Michael Sutphin and Big Stone Gay Town Councilman Tyler Hughes, who are both gay, are running for re-election.
“Tyler will be a critical voice for equality as the only out LGBTQ+ person on the Big Stone Gap Town Council,” says the Victory Fund on its website.
Cal Benn contributed to this article.