Want to know why important LGBTQ civil rights can't get anywhere in the House Of Delegates? Look no further than this guy and those like him.
Marilyn Drew Necci | February 13, 2018
Ever since Bob Marshall was defeated last November, I’ve been wondering who would step up to take his place as the chief hater of the Virginia General Assembly. It looks like that question may have an answer now; if nothing else, we can be sure that Dave LaRock is throwing his hat in the ring.
LaRock, a Republican (as if you didn’t know), represents the 33rd District in the House Of Delegates. Last week, after a slew of pro-LGBTQ bills were killed in the House of Delegates at the subcommittee level, LaRock took to the pages of the major newspaper from his district, the Winchester Star, to crow about it.
SB 423, which would have prohibited housing practices discriminating on basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, was struck down in a House subcommittee after being passed by a huge majority in the Senate. As far as LaRock is concerned, this is a good thing. “If you create a right for people on the basis of their sexual behaviors, then you are taking away the right of someone like me or someone else whom might want to rent to say, ‘I choose not to rent the place that I have to homosexuals,’” he told the Winchester Star.
It seems LaRock considers sexual orientation and gender identity “behaviors,” rather than innate traits. This becomes even clearer in his follow-up comment to the Star: “I’m not condoning any kind of abusive treatment to someone who chooses that kind of behavior. I just don’t think it’s the government’s place to say I have to ignore that behavior.”
If you are getting a whiff of the old “being gay is a choice” argument from these quotes, you’re on the right track. This is certainly not LaRock’s first time expressing these sorts of repellent views. In 2016, he wrote a letter to the Loudoun Times-Mirror condemning a resolution proposed by the Loudoun County supervisor to recognize LGBT Pride Month. LaRock saw Pride Month as a threat and a menace, and doubled down on the “gay is a choice” argument in his comments that Pride “promotes homosexuality and gender confusion to people of all ages” and “[is] used to promote, affirm and recruit young school-aged children to those lifestyles.”
That’s right — Dave LaRock thinks we’re evil, and that we’re going to give our LGBTQ cooties to all the little children. Said LaRock, these sorts of resolutions should be reserved “for real heroes and honorable events that elevate that which is good, wholesome and worthy of recognition.” Our man from Loudoun, of course, thought LGBT Pride was bad, bad, bad.
“Pride often reflects an attitude of arrogance,” he told the Loudoun Times-Mirror. “And while there may be instances where pride is a good thing (such as patriotism or support for those who have sacrificed in service to our country and community), having our Loudoun County government publicly proclaim to be proud of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) movement is not such an instance.” He went on to proclaim Pride “offensive” on the basis that it “ignores and contradicts [his] deeply held religious beliefs.”
He’s still singing this same tune two years later, reacting to the defeat of bills opposing LGBTQ employment discrimination (such as HB 401 and SB 202, both killed in subcommittee last week) by confirming that he supports discrimination of exactly this kind, and taking specific aim at transgender people. LaRock called to the thought of a trans person being permitted to teach a kindergarten class “very disturbing,” claiming that trans people have a mental disorder and that they shouldn’t be allowed in “role-model positions.” Awesome.
LaRock has received widespread condemnation for these remarks from Democratic Delegates. “We strongly condemn Delegate LaRock’s divisive and discriminatory remarks about transgender Virginians,” said House Democratic Leader David J. Toscano and Caucus Chair Charniele Herring in a statement. ”Views like his are exactly why we must pass legislation that would bar discrimination against the LGBTQ community in the workplace and in housing. Unfortunately, Delegate LaRock’s Republican colleagues killed four bills last week that would have done exactly that.”
Danica Roem, the first openly transgender person elected to the House of Delegates, responded by pointing out what she’s been saying all along — that legislators should “focus on core quality of life issues like traffic, jobs, schools and health care, instead of singling out and stigmatizing the people they were elected to serve,” she said in a statement. “I hope my presence here in the House of Delegates shows Virginians of all stripes that we can succeed because of who we are, not despite it, or for what discriminatory politicians tell us what we’re supposed to be.”
WATCH: @VVforDelegate delivered a powerful floor speech on what young people care about in VA. “We ran on jobs, healthcare access, educational reform, and creating a VA that was open and welcoming to everyone, regardless of race, faith, gender, sexual orientation.” pic.twitter.com/HjsTmL35Ca
— VA House Democrats (@VAHouseDems) February 9, 2018
Speaking to the House floor after the death of the anti-discrimination bills last week, 72nd District Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg, a Democrat and a public school teacher, lashed back at hateful sentiments like those of LaRock. “I find it shameful that in this great commonwealth, people in professions like teaching may have to hide their identity of fear of being fired,” VanValkenburg said. “What does that say to our students, what does that say to our community, and most importantly, what does it say to that teacher? This is not a Virginia that I want to live in, that millennials want to live in, and that the majority of Virginians want to live in. Let’s do better.”
The election just happened a few months ago, so we’re stuck with Delegate LaRock for at least the next two years. At this point, all we can do is let our legislators know that we are sick of seeing hate like that expressed by LaRock carrying the day. Find out who your legislators are and how you can contact them using the General Assembly’s Who’s My Legislator tool, at http://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/. Let them know. It’s the only way we’ll win.
Photo via Facebook