Anti-GLBT Attacks Fail as Democrats Take Control of Virginia State Senate

by HRC Staff

Candidates Supported by the Human Rights Campaign Will Be Strong Advocates for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community, Even Amidst Attacks from the Right

WASHINGTON-Democrats won the four seats needed to flip party control of the Virginia State Senate in yesterday's off-year elections. The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender advocacy group, had contributed significant resources to several of the races that were deemed to be of concern to the GLBT community. In an election that saw extreme attacks against candidates for their support of the GLBT community, candidates backed by HRC were successful in their efforts to gain election to the state's legislature.

"HRC is proud to have played an active role in the election of Virginia State Senators who are strong supporters of the GLBT community," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "Once in office, they will help us not only beat back anti-gay legislation, but to enact progressive policies. This election shows that voters prefer a message that unites all Virginians to one that denigrates the GLBT community."

HRC dedicated 31 staff plus HRC members and volunteers to work with local groups to elect fair-minded candidates in the state races. In all, HRC spent more than 2,000 hours knocking on doors and making phone calls on behalf of these candidates representing more than $50,000 worth of in-kind contributions.

"The candidates defeated yesterday were vastly out of touch with their constituents on issues of equality and fairness, and they have paid the price for that," continued Solmonese.

The winning candidates supported by HRC were:

George Barker: Barker, who will represent Southern Fairfax County and Northern Prince William County, unseated Senate District 36's incumbent Jay O'Brien, who was a vocal supporter of Virginia's amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman. O'Brien's campaign unsuccessfully used anti-gay mailers to persuade voters to re-elect him.

"The assistance of the staff and members of the Human Rights Campaign was critical to my election victory tonight," Barker said yesterday. "Thank you for the hard work and dedication to electing a State Senate that stands up for all Virginians."

John Miller: Miller, who will represent York County, Hampton City, Newport News, and Poquoson, won an open seat that had previously been held by a Republican. Voters in Senate District 1 received anti-gay robocalls on the day of the election-but these did not help opponent Tricia Stall.

"The energy and expertise of the Human Rights Campaign came at a crucial time and helped put us over the top. Thank you, HRC, to your staff and members for all of your persistence and efforts to elect leaders who will support equality," said Miller.

Ralph Northam: Northam, who will represent Accomack County, Mathews County, Northampton County, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach, unseated Senate District 6's incumbent Nick Rerras, another vocal supporter of Virginia's marriage amendment.

Chap Petersen: Petersen, who will represent Fairfax County and Fairfax City, unseated Senate District 34's incumbent Jeannemarie Devolites Davis by a 10 point margin in a district with a high concentration of HRC members and supporters.

Read more about the Virginia elections on the HRC Back Story blog.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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