Virginia Del.-elect Rob Krupicka (D-Alexandria) remains optimistic that LGBT-specific issues will advance in Richmond once the General Assembly reconvenes in January.
“It’s always a challenge in Virginia when you’re trying to move an equality agenda forward to do it in a way that has a high chance of success and to not do it in a way that potentially, actually almost dooms [it] to failure,” he told the Washington Blade as he discussed the prospects of a bill that state Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) plans to reintroduce next year that would extend employment protections to LGBT state workers. “There’s a range of issues that I think all of us would see as pretty reasonable that you have to be pretty strategic about when you’re working on building a consensus and coalition behind them, but I think the senator’s work on that issue is certainly one where I think there’s an opportunity to build a broad coalition of support and hopefully we’ll be able to do that.”
Voters elected Krupicka to represent the 45th District, which includes portions of Alexandria and Arlington and Fairfax Counties in the House of Delegates, during a Sept. 4 special election. He will succeed former state Del. David Englin who resigned because of extramarital affair.
Krupicka, 41, was the first straight member of Virginia Partisans, an LGBT Democratic group, in the early 1990s. He was on the Alexandria City Council from 2003 through earlier this month. Then-Gov. Tim Kaine appointed Krupicka to the Virginia Board of Education in 2009.
Krupicka applauded Alexandria’s “very strong” human rights ordinance and efforts to prevent discrimination against prospective tenants based on their race or sexual orientation.
“I’m very proud of that,” said Krupicka. “That’s an important piece of what makes Alexandria a great community. I have been very strongly supportive of a lot of our efforts on human rights issues.”
He further noted he has “always been very strongly in favor” of marriage rights for same-sex couples—he and current gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) hosted a fundraiser for the campaign that sought to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment that sought to define marriage as between a man and a woman in the state. Virginia voters approved the measure in 206.
“It’s been a lot of fun to watch how marriage equality has evolved as an issue over the last 15-20 years,” said Krupicka, noting the city of Alexandria has always backed the issue as part of its legislative platform. “I was for marriage equality before it was necessarily a popular position to take. I can’t really recall a time when I wasn’t, but it’s been fun to watch friends and colleagues and other people kind of evolve on that issue. I think it says a lot about the potential and I’m pretty that evolution will continue for everyone and we’ll eventually get there.”
Krupicka also applauded gay prosecutor Tracy Thorne-Begland’s interim appointment to the Richmond General Circuit Court in June. He criticized state Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William County) and others in the Republican-controlled House of Delegates who rejected his nomination in May.
“It was disastrous and embarrassing he wasn’t appointed the first time, and clearly we have work to do to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said Krupicka. “I thought that was one of the worst days of the General Assembly, and they had a lot of bad days, to treat someone with so much credibility and experience the way they did I thought was shameful.”
He remains optimistic that lawmakers will confirm Thorne-Begland’s appointment once they return to Richmond in January.
“My understanding is there are people who have evolved in their thinking on that issue and hopefully that will be the case,” said Krupicka. “Good people should be given a chance to serve.”
Equality Virginia to hold Arlington fundraiser
Krupicka is among the co-hosts of an Oct. 4 fundraiser at the Westin Arlington Gateway that will raise funds to support Equality Virginia’s work in Northern Virginia.
The organization now has a staffer, Ryan Schell, who works out of Arlington. Equality Virginia is also working with the city of Fairfax and Prince William County to pass non-discrimination resolutions or executive orders before state lawmakers return to Richmond.
James Parrish, the group’s executive director, told the Blade that his organization is also working with the Fairfax County Public Schools to LGBT-specific language their anti-bullying policy and Alexandria City Public Schools to add gender identity and expression to their existing regulations.
“Our goal is to really get back into the Northern Virginia area or in some ways to just get into the Northern Virginia area,” said Parrish as he discussed the Oct. 4 fundraiser. Equality Virginia also held an event in Fairfax over the summer. “It’s just a more visible way of seeing EV around and kind of back up all the work that we’ll be doing up there.”