The Washington Post on Friday reported Marshall declined to participate in the event, which the Prince William County chapter of the NAACP has co-sponsored with the League of Women Voters and the Prince William Committee of 100.
The Post noted Roem and other Democratic candidates agreed to participate in the forum.
“In the last few elections, there’s been a distinct lack of civility,” Marshall told the Post. “Prior to that, it wasn’t so bad. You weren’t automatically identified as a bigot, or a hatemonger or anything like this. That has changed.”
Marshall, who is among the most vocal opponents of LGBT rights in the Virginia General Assembly, has represented the 13th District in the Virginia House of Delegates since 1992. Roem would make history as the first openly transgender person seated in any state legislature in the country if she were to beat the Prince William County Republican in November.
The Human Rights Campaign, the Trans United Fund, Equality Virginia’s Political Action Committee, the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence and Lieutenant Gov. Ralph Northam are among the organizations and elected officials who have endorsed Roem. The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund — who also backs Roem — has categorized Marshall as “Bigot Bob” throughout the campaign.
“Del. Marshall’s decision not to debate me in an open public forum where we could discuss fixing Route 28, bringing high paying jobs to Innovation Park, filling office vacancies in Manassas Park, raising teacher pay so it’s not the lowest in Northern Virginia, expanding medicaid to cover 3,700 uninsured constituents of the 13th District who are living below the 138 percent . . . poverty line and equality as well is a real shame,” Roem told the Washington Blade on Sept. 15.
Roem added Marshall’s decision not to participate in the forum is “blatantly disrespectful towards” the groups that have organized it and voters in the 13th District.
“The people of the 13th District deserve to see the candidates who will be on their ballot debate one-on-one in front of them with the opportunity for follow-up questions so they can compare side-by-side where we stand and actually have a chance to talk to us themselves and compare and see what they see,” Roem told the Blade.
Roem noted to the Blade her campaign raised more than $156,000 last month, compared to the $34,520 that Marshall raised. Roem also pointed out Marshall introduced four anti-LGBT bills during the 2017 legislative session and has misgendered her in interviews with the press.
“The fact that he’s not willing to debate someone from that community who is a well-qualified journalist who is capable and willing to serve speaks volumes about what he thinks of the people of the 13th District and that they don’t deserve to hear from both candidates in a forum,” Roem told the Blade. “It says that he’s running scared of me and he’s running scared of our community and he knows that we can beat him.”