Karine Jean-Pierre
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Danica Roem's Opponent Compares Marriage Equality to Slavery

Danica Roem and Kelly McGinn

Danica Roem, who defeated a virulently anti-LGBTQ incumbent in 2017 to become the first out transgender person to serve in a state legislature, is up against an equally homophobic, transphobic opponent this year.

Kelly McGinn, the Republican challenging Democrat Roem for the Virginia House of Delegates’ 13th District seat, has a record of hostility to LGBTQ people similar to that of Bob Marshall, the delegate unseated by Roem in 2017, according to a press release from the Virginia House Democrats organization.

McGinn is a lawyer and conservative activist, and she was an aide to far-right politician Sam Brownback when he represented Kansas in the U.S. Senate. She has called marriage equality “morally repugnant” and likened it to slavery, has called parenting by LGBTQ people an “absurd” idea, and has used transphobia to justify her opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment.

In 2007 she signed on to a letter from the anti-abortion group Crossroads denouncing “the public policy positions of Catholic politicians who support abortion, embryo-destructive research, and homosexual marriage.”

“They stand against the teachings of the Church and in favor of morally repugnant practices that are counter to the common good and that should be unwelcome in a just or even polite society,” the letter continued. It called abortion rights and marriage equality part of a “Culture of Death” that is as reprehensible as the slave trade. The missive identified McGinn as a board member for Human Life International.

In 2011 she offered written testimony against a proposed regulation change in Virginia that would prohibit private adoption agencies from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, age, or family status in child placement. “This is absurd,” she wrote, adding, “Although redefining family, marriage, and parenthood has become a national obsession, one man and one woman joined in marriage remain the most successful paradigmatic family in which to place a child.”

This year at a press conference, she explained why she opposes the Equal Rights Amendment, the yet-to-be-ratified amendment to the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing equal rights regardless of sex. The Amendment “does not even mention the word ‘woman’ or ‘women,’ referring only to equality of rights on account of ‘sex,’ a term which enjoyed a common understanding in 1972 — a man or a woman — but does not in 2019,” she said.

Neither Roem nor McGinn has an opponent in the June primary, so they will face each other in the November 5 general election.

A recent Washington Post article asserted that Republicans this year are avoiding personal attacks on Roem — which Marshall often engaged in — but McGinn’s record is at odds with that, Trevor Southerland, executive director of the Virginia House Democratic Caucus, said in the press release.

“Republicans may say they aren’t going to personally attack Delegate Roem in this campaign but Kelly McGinn’s public hostility toward LGBTQ+ adoption and marriage equality is a personal attack on every LGBTQ+ Virginian,” he said. “Do Virginia House Republicans agree with McGinn’s anti-LGBTQ+ comments? What makes McGinn’s anti-LGBTQ+ remarks even more disturbing is that she said them publicly with the express intention of influencing policy. It seems she is determined to replace former HD-13 Delegate Bob Marshall as Virginia’s ‘chief homophobe.’ Just like Marshall, while McGinn enters the race with a history of regressive and discriminatory public policy positions, Delegate Roem will continue to focus on kitchen-table issues affecting western Prince William County and Manassas Park, like fixing Route 28, expanding health care coverage, ending school meal debt shaming and increasing government accountability.”

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