An LGBT group has formed to support a Republican lawmaker who is running to become Virginia’s next lieutenant governor.
Evan Draim, chair of LGBT Virginians for Vogel, told the Washington Blade on Thursday during a telephone interview that state Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-Fauquier County) is “the best candidate to represent the LGBT community.”
Vogel, who currently represents the 27th Senate District that includes the city of Winchester and portions of Loudoun County, in 2013 voted to confirm Richmond Circuit Court Judge Tracy Thorne-Begland as Virginia’s first openly gay jurist. The Fauquier County Republican has also voted for measures that would have banned discrimination against LGBT Virginians in employment and housing.
Vogel publicly supports marriage rights for same-sex couples. She nevertheless voted for two religious freedom bills earlier this year and in 2016 that critics contend would have allowed discrimination against them.
“As a strong supporter of tolerance and freedom, Jill Vogel believes that the same constitution which protects same-sex couples’ right to marry also protects the free exercise rights of ministers, who should not be compelled to participate in a religious ceremony which violates their sincerely held religious beliefs,” Eloise Hincker, a spokesperson for Vogel’s campaign, told the Washington Blade on Friday in an email. “Jill’s vote on a bill to protect ministers does not contradict her opposition to discrimination. Rather, it reflects her live-and-let-live world view which holds that government does not belong in either the bedroom or the church.”
Hincker also noted Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed both measures.
“As the governor correctly noted in his veto statement, these bills would have protected rights already protected by the First Amendment,” said Hincker. “Jill agrees and supports setting forth these protections in the Virginia Code as well.”
Draim noted Vogel also supports U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor (R-Va.)’s bill that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the federal Fair Housing Act.
“She has a record of voting for the LGBT community in Virginia,” Draim told the Blade.
Vogel ‘honored’ to have LGBT group’s support
Draim is the Young Republican Federation of Virginia’s 10th District’s representative and the operations chair for the Fairfax County Republican Committee’s Dranesville District. He was a delegate for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at the 2012 Republican National Convention.
Draim is an employment development specialist at ServiceSource Foundation, a non-profit organization in Oakton, Va., that provides job training and other services to people with disabilities.
Draim, who at 17 was the youngest delegate at the 2012 Republican National Convention, told the Blade that Vogel is scheduled to attend Pride events around Virginia with his group. Draim also said the reaction to Vogel’s campaign among LGBT Virginians has been “very positive.”
“I’m an LGBT Republican,” said Draim. “It means a lot to me to have a candidate like Jill.”
Vogel in a statement to the Blade said she welcomes LGBT Virginians for Vogel’s support.
“I am honored to have these future leaders joining me in standing against discrimination and supporting equal opportunity for all,” she said. “As lieutenant governor, I will continue supporting equal justice and opportunity for all, and I look forward to working with advocates like Evan to advance the inclusive values we share.”
Vogel will face off against Democrat Justin Fairfax in November. Current Lieutenant Gov. Ralph Northam is running against former Republican National Committee Chair Ed Gillespie in the race to succeed McAuliffe.