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Human Rights Campaign Endorse Mark Herring, Ralph Northam

With Virginia's gubernatorial election taking place in an off year, HRC is making sure to push candidates with pro-LGBTQ records here in the Commonwealth.

Marilyn Drew Necci | August 1, 2017

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) announced yesterday that it endorses Attorney General Mark Herring in his bid for re-election this November, as well as endorsing Lt. Governor Ralph Northam in the gubernatorial race. HRC has been a powerful voice for LGBTQ equality for over three decades. The group is currently engaging in a massive grassroots campaign known as HRC Rising, a response to the current threatening political climate around LGBT issues, specifically from the Trump/Pence administration and the current Republican-controlled United States Congress.

The HRC Rising campaign has the stated goal of pushing pro-LGBTQ candidates in the 2018 midterm Congressional election, but with Virginia’s gubernatorial election taking place in an off year, the organization is making sure to push candidates with pro-LGBTQ records here in the Commonwealth as well.

Attorney General Mark Herring has done a great deal to endear himself to LGBTQ Virginias over the past four years. Within a month of taking office, Herring joined the fight for marriage equality, arguing that the VA ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. After winning at the local and appeals court levels, the US Supreme Court let the decision stand, bringing marriage equality to VA in the first year of Herring’s tenure as AG.

Since this momentous occasion, Herring has continued to act as an ally to the LGBTQ community, reversing the state’s policy forbidding VA schools from protecting students from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in 2015. Earlier this year, Herring worked with state legislators to introduce bills expanding hate crime definitions in VA to include crimes against LGBTQ citizens. Most recently, he joined with 18 other state attorneys general in urging Congress to block Trump’s sudden ban on transgender soldiers serving in the US military.

Herring’s record stands in stark contrast to that of Republican opponent John Adams, who opposes marriage equality and has criticized Herring’s moves to block Trump’s transgender troop ban.

In a press release, HRC president Chad Griffin stated, ”Attorney General Mark Herring has spent his career fighting to ensure all Virginians are treated with dignity and respect. Whether it was standing up against a discriminatory ban on marriage equality or working to ensure LGBTQ students can go to school in an environment free from discrimination and harassment, Mark Herring is a proven champion of fairness and equality under the law. We are proud to endorse Attorney General Herring in his bid for re-election.”

Herring responded to the endorsement with enthusiasm. ”I will never stop fighting for the rights of all Virginians to live, learn, and work free from intimidation, hate, or discrimination,” he said. “Our LGBT friends, neighbors, and family deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect that we all expect. I am so proud to have stood alongside HRC and Virginia’s LGBT community in the fight for marriage equality, non-discrimination, and more. As long as I am Virginia’s attorney general, I will make sure we keep moving forward and will fight any efforts to drag our Commonwealth backwards.”

HRC also endorsed Lt. Governor Ralph Northam in his campaign for VA Governor. Northam, who cast tie-breaking votes in the General Assembly to prevent discrimination against VA state employees on basis of sexual orientation and to prevent Herring from being forced to defend Virginia’s former ban on marriage equality. Republican opponent Ed Gillespie, by contrast, has previously voiced his support for a bill banning transgender people from public bathrooms, a la North Carolina’s infamous HB2.

In light of the contrast between Democratic and Republican candidates, HRC’s support for Herring and Northam can’t be seen as tremendously surprising. However, the enthusiasm with which their endorsements were both given and received sends a positive message to Virginia LGBT voters determining which way they will vote in November.