Danica Roem didn’t just win a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates tonight. She became the first transgender elected official at the state level anywhere in the nation.
And she beat one of the most homophobic Republicans in the country on her way to victory.
Del. Robert G. Marshall was a self-proclaimed “chief homophobe,” an anti-abortion Catholic, a man who thought X-rated videos were a public health hazard, and the author of a bathroom bill that would have denied transgender people the ability to use the correct restroom. In fact, he referred to Roem’s identity as “against the laws of nature and nature’s God.”
“Discrimination is a disqualifier,” a jubilant Roem said Tuesday night as her margin of victory became clear. “This is about the people of the 13th District disregarding fear tactics, disregarding phobias . . . where we celebrate you because of who you are, not despite it.”
Marshall, 73, who refused to debate Roem and referred to her throughout the campaign using male pronouns, declined an interview request but posted a concession message on Facebook.
“For 26 years I’ve been proud to fight for you, and fight for our future,” he said. “I’m committed to continue the fight for you, but in a different role going forward.”
26 years comes out to 13 terms in the House. And now he’s been ousted by someone he eagerly fought to discriminate against. It’s sweet, sweet justice against a religious conservative and his bigot base.
Given the way the Virginia Delegate races are panning out, Roem may also have tipped the scale in the Democrats’ favor in the 100-seat House. It’s a big, big deal.