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Dublin: 6 °C Tuesday 12 November, 2019

A transgender politician beat 'Virginia's chief homophobe' to a state seat for the Democrats

Danica Roem is the first openly transgender person in US history to win a seat in a state legislature.

Danica Roem is greeted by supporters as she prepares to give her victory speech.
Danica Roem is greeted by supporters as she prepares to give her victory speech.
Image: Jahi Chikwendiu/PA Images

A US DEMOCRAT politician has made history by becoming Virginia’s — and possibly the nation’s — first openly transgender state delegate, winning her bid for a seat in the legislature.

In a campaign that garnered national attention, musician and former journalist Danica Roem, 33, prevailed in her race against Republican Robert Marshall, who has served as a delegate for a quarter century and once referred to himself as Virginia’s “chief homophobe”

With 95% of the vote counted, Roem was leading with 55% of the vote against Marshall’s 45%.

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund described Roem as the only out transgender person in US history to win a seat in a state legislature.

“Tonight voters chose a smart, solutions-oriented trans leader over a divisive anti-LGBTQ demagogue, sending a powerful message to anti-trans legislators all across the nation,” Victory Fund president Aisha Moodie-Mills said in a statement.

Roem rode to victory on strong fundraising by the Victory Fund and other pro-LGBT groups and voters, which helped her grass-roots effort to raise awareness of her campaign in Virginia’s Prince William County.

She will now serve two years in the House of Delegates in Richmond, where Democrats gained several seats yesterday and appeared close to seizing control of the legislature from Republicans.

Source: MSNBC/YouTube

The former journalist emphasised last month that she was not entering politics to be an LGBTQ symbol, under a president who recently banned transgender people from serving in the military.

Instead she aimed to take on municipal issues using the knowledge she amassed during nearly a decade covering local news for the Gainesville Times paper.

The septuagenarian Marshall — a staunch gay marriage opponent — refused to use the pronoun “she” when referring to Roem during the campaign, and he also refuses to debate her.

In a brief statement on Facebook, Marshall thanked his supporters.

“For 26 years I’ve been proud to fight for you, and fight for our future. Though we all wish tonight would have turned out differently, I am deeply grateful for your support and effort over the years,” he wrote.

Several other Democratic women also made history last night: Hala Ayala and Elizabeth Guzman — who both ousted Republican incumbents — will be the chamber’s first Latina members, and Kathy Tran will be its first female Asian-American member.

In the Blacksburg area, Chris Hurst, a former Virginia news anchor whose journalist girlfriend was fatally shot during a live broadcast in 2015, defeated a Republican incumbent.

After the shooting, Hurst became the public face of the grieving Roanoke station.

- With reporting by Associated Press

Read: ‘Do not underestimate us,’ Trump warns North Korea on his election anniversary >

Read: Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: ‘The Irish are for Trump. So perhaps we should say something about it’ >

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