queer takeover

Virginia was swept away by a huge rainbow wave in yesterday’s election

Rozia Henson
Rozia Henson

Democrats enjoyed a better-than-expected off-year election day yesterday. This was particularly true in Virginia, where the party took control of the House of Delegates and retained the Senate, putting a seriously damper on the power of anti-LGBTQ+ Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

One individual with a particular cause to celebrate is Rozia Henson. He became the first Black, out gay man elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. He took District 19.

He was the only candidate as the Republican Party chose not to contest the seat.

Former Democratic candidate Makya Little decided to run a write-in campaign against Henson after losing a primary in June.

According to his campaign website, “Rozia ‘J.R.’ Henson Jr. is a resident born and raised in Woodbridge, Virginia. Born to a teenage mother, who raised him alongside his stepfather, Rozia became the second child for the couple.

He attended Virginia State University, “receiving his bachelor’s degree in Political Science, and later attended and graduated from the University of Maryland University College to receive his Master of Business Administration degree. Today, he is a successful federal contractor and Program Manager for the Department of Homeland Security while maintaining his Small Business as a consultant.”

Danica Roem

Other victors last night include Virginia Delegate Danica Roem. She became the second out trans person ever elected to a state senate in the United States. She is also the first out trans person elected to a state senate in the South.

Joshua Cole, who is bisexual, won re-election to Virginia’s House of Delegates.

Victory Fund

According to the Victory Fund, a PAC set up to help support LGBTQ+ candidates seeking office, “over 200 out LGBTQ+ candidates won their elections in 2023 – including 148 tonight – more than in any other odd-numbered election year in U.S. history.”

Victory Fund President and CEO Annise Parker welcomed the success of Henson, Roem, Cole and others in Virginia.

“Today, voters across Virginia resoundingly rejected the politics of bigotry and fear directed at the LGBTQ+ community,” Parker said. “In Virginia and around the country, tonight’s results show that hate is a losing issue at the ballot box. We’re proud that our LGBTQ+ Victory Fund candidates were key to delivering a pro-equality majority in the General Assembly that will stand up to Glenn Youngkin’s bigoted policies.”

Away from Virginia, Democrats also enjoyed notable success in Kentucky, where the incumbent Democratic governor, Andy Beshear, won re-election in a traditionally red state with an improved margin on his 2019 win.

Housing and civil rights attorney Rue Landau won an at-large seat on the Philadelphia City Council, making history as the first out LGBTQ+ candidate to win election to the council. Until now, Philadelphia was the only major US city not to have an LGBTQ+ council member.

In Ohio, voters approved a measure to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution. Many political commentators believe last year’s Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade, and some red states introducing strict abortion restrictions, continue to turn voters off the Republican Party.

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