Referring to challenger Danica Roem with male pronouns is only the beginning, but it's a pretty gross place to start.
Marilyn Drew Necci | October 30, 2017
Maybe Bob Marshall just thinks LGBTQ people don’t vote. Throughout the race for the 13th District House Of Delegates seat, between the Republican incumbent and his Democratic challenger, Danica Roem, Marshall has avoided public debates and retreated from discussion of specific issues, campaigning almost entirely on a platform of anti-LGBTQ hatemongering.
This past weekend, his campaign took the negative identity politics a step farther, sending out two campaign mailers that focus on Roem’s status as a transgender woman and gender her correctly only when quoting from other sources. And on the off chance you think these mailers are unfairly attributed directly to the candidate, both feature fine print reading “Paid for by the Republican Party of Virginia. Authorized by Bob Marshall, Candidate for Delegate.”
In a stunning display of hubris, Marshall’s campaign actually sent these mailers directly to Roem’s home — “his targeting is uniquely awful,” says Roem in response — and include the kind of blatant misgendering that it wouldn’t be a stretch to call hate speech. Here I refer to the portion of one mailer that is headlined “Danica Roem, In His Own Words.” Excuse me?
Roem responds, “Delegate Marshall’s hypocrisy truly knows no bounds: saying that I’ve made my gender an issue while he spends two mailers attacking me for being trans and standing up for LGBTQ kids, and misgenders me while he’s at it. You likely saw his anti-transgender TV ad recently too.”
She’s right — the mailers focus almost entirely on Roem’s gender, and on the fact that Roem supports inclusion and support for transgender children. Specifically, this portion of the mailer references Roem’s fight to get Prince William County’s School Board to add gender identity and sexual orientation to their non-discrimination policy. The Marshall mailer refers to this as “support[ing] transgender public school curriculum starting in kindergarten.” Not exactly, but hey, it makes the straights scared, so go with it, right?
The only thing listed on the entire mailer that is not an anti-LGBTQ talking point is that Roem “favors a gas tax increase.” Roem responds by calling this subject “a debate that’s actually worth having as I support Sen. Frank Wagner’s (R-7) efforts to establish a floor and ceiling on the gas tax so we can fully fund our buses in Prince William County.” Even this for-once-not-offensive point has another side to it.
Really though, as Roem points out, all of this shows a reluctance to deal with the sorts of issues that her campaign has focused on from day one. “This is what happens when he can’t defeat me on the core quality-of-life issues facing the people of the 13th District, like fixing Route 28, bringing high-paying jobs to Innovation Park, filling the office vacancies in Manassas Park, raising teacher pay so it’s not the lowest in Northern Virginia and expanding Medicaid to cover 3,700 uninsured constituents of the 13th District who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line,” she says. “He’s instead resorted to attacking children and attacking the very concept of making Virginia a more inclusive commonwealth in these mailers that are void of substance in his attacks on me.”
The race between Marshall and Roem has been hard-fought all year, and competition is sure to go down to the wire. However, for any Virginian (LGBTQ or not) who considers the possibility that Marshall might end up back in the General Assembly in 2018, the fact that he’s content to run entirely on a campaign message that can be boiled down to finding his opponent’s transgender status icky and her support for LGBTQ issues unsettling certainly doesn’t speak well for his ability to get anything done in the assembly that’s actually worth doing. Maybe I’m going out on a limb here, but it seems to me that if Republicans want the votes of the many LGBTQ people in Virginia, they need to run on platforms consisting of something other than anti-LGBTQ hysteria.
All Photos courtesy Danica Roem