Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said Wednesday the defeat of a Virginia anti-LGBT Republican at the hands of transgender candidate Danica Roem was “justice,” pledging to stand with her on the day she takes office in the state legislature.
“I look forward to her service in Richmond, and I’m going to be there — I want to go there on day one because that will be remarkable moment for her,” Perez said.
Roem’s first day of service in the Virginia House of Delegates will be Jan. 11, when she’ll become the first openly transgender person seated to a state legislature in the history of the United States.
Perez made the remarks in response to a question from the Washington Blade during a conference call with reporters on Election 2017, which include Democratic wins in both the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial races for the first time since 2005.
Asked about the nationwide implications of wins by Roem and other transgender candidates, Perez pointed out the Republican she unseated, anti-LGBT Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William), had sought to pass a bill banning transgender people from using the restroom consistent with their gender identity.
“Danica Roem not only won her race in Virginia, she won in handily, and she won it against the incumbent who authored the bill on transgender bathrooms and refused to refer to her by her pronoun,” Perez said. “That is justice in my opinion, and that reflects the fact that Virginians understand fairness.”
Perez said election night was “remarkable on so many levels,” comparing Roem’s win to other victories for diversity, such as the election of a Sikh as mayor of Hoboken, the election of the first two Latinas and Vietnamese-American to the Virginia House of Delegates, the election of a Liberian-American refuge as mayor of Helena, Mont, and the election of a black candidate for the first time as mayor of St. Paul.
“You look at the people who won, and they reflect the diverse quilt that is the United States of America,” Perez said.
Asked whether the elections sent a signal to Trump about his policies, such as anti-LGBT actions his administration has taken, Perez spoke generally about moves he says the American public disfavors.
“The America that Donald Trump left a few days ago when he went to Asia bears little resemblance to the America that we know today,” Perez said. “The America of today has sent a very, very clear signal that the policies of division must be over.”
Among the policies Perez said Republicans should reconsider in the wake of the victories or diversity is congressional deliberations on tax reform and efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare.
“You continue to ignore people at your peril, and what we saw as much as anything yesterday was that facts actually do matter,” Perez said. “You can continue to say that the Affordable Care Act is a disaster. The reality on the ground for people — many, many people — is that it’s been a lifesaver, and you look at the No. 1 issue in Virginia for people, it was health care.”
While Democrats support the people on health care, Perez said, Trump has “a knife in their back” as well as the “culture-of-corruption Republicans that are running the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House.”