HRC is investing in the 27 candidates, all Democrats, in hopes of passing stronger protections for LGBTQ Virginians in the next General Assembly session.
On Thursday, Human Rights Campaign formally announced their decision to make a “six-figure” investment into the 2019 Virginia General Assembly campaign. Their campaign will take the form of endorsements and donations to 27 different candidates currently running for a seat on Virginia’s General Assembly.
“HRC is proud to endorse these pro-equality champions who will be our partners in achieving long-overdue non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ Virginians,” HRC President Alphonso David said in a statement. “Virginia is at a turning point: voters are fed up with politicians who insist on playing politics with the lives of LGBTQ people. Virginians deserve leaders who will fight for them and bring people together, not pit us against each other.”
All of the candidates receiving endorsements and investments from HRC are Democrats; 18 are women, and 10 are people of color. The endorsements constitute the largest program HRC has ever launched in Virginia. It will focus on “Equality Voters,” a HRC-defined category the group says it used “sophisticated analytics” to identify throughout the country in a 2018 program. The group says that their Virginia program will target 1.2 million of these Equality Voters in 27 districts around Virginia.
“In the coming months, HRC will work tirelessly to turn out the 1.2 million Equality Voters in Virginia and elect new leadership in Richmond that will put the needs of Virginians ahead of the needs of special interests,” David said in a statement.
In the most recent General Assembly session, at the beginning of 2019, a bipartisan majority of delegates supported two LGBTQ-focused anti-discrimination bills that had been proposed in that session. One, HB 2067, merely made the prohibitions against discrimination on basis of sexual orientation and gender identity for state employees, currently enforced by an executive order signed by Governor Northam on his first day in office, a permanent state law. The other, HB 2677, added prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity to Virginia’s Fair Housing Law.
Similar bills have passed with bipartisan support several times in the Virginia State Senate. However, despite widespread support for both bills, high-powered Republicans in the House Of Delegates, including Speaker of the House Kirk Cox and Majority Caucus Chairman Tim Hugo, worked to prevent both bills from coming to a vote in committee.
Among the candidates HRC is endorsing in this election cycle are Sheila Bynum-Coleman, who is running against Cox, and Dan Helmer, who is running against Hugo. Bynum-Coleman’s chances are seen as particularly strong in light of the fact that the recent anti-gerrymandering reforms passed in Virginia led District 66, which Cox currently represents, to be redrawn, making it 32 points more Democratic, according to Virginia Public Access Project, than it was previously.
“For the past six years, the Republican-controlled State Senate has passed legislation to protect LGBT people from discrimination,” said Equality Virginia Deputy Director Vee Lamneck in a statement. “But despite strong support from within his own Republican caucus, House Speaker Kirk Cox has repeatedly killed a number of bills that would have ensured LGBT people were treated fairly and equitably under our laws including common-sense, bipartisan bills that would have provided nondiscrimination protections for LGBT Virginians. Virginia can’t afford to allow discrimination to continue in our commonwealth. We need new leadership that will truly represent Virginia’s values.”
The full list of candidates that HRC is endorsing this year can be seen at their website.
Photo via HRC.org