November 3, 2016 at 11:21 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Md., Va. voters to decide key races next week
Virginia election, gay news, Washington Blade

From left, LuAnn Bennett and Rep. Barbara Comstock (Photos courtesy Twitter)

A Fairfax County Democrat who is running against Congresswoman Barbara Comstock continues to highlight Comstock’s record hostile to LGBT rights.

LuAnn Bennett’s campaign is currently running an ad on D.C. television stations that notes Comstock’s opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples. It also highlights her vote against a proposal that would have removed anti-LGBT language from a defense spending bill.

The vote on the proposed amendment took place on May 19.

“Congresswoman Comstock is once again on the wrong side of history and squarely aligned with extreme forces within her Republican caucus that wish to discriminate against LGBT Americans,” said Bennett in a statement.

Bennett in the same statement noted Comstock in June 2015 voted against an amendment to a transportation and housing appropriations bill that would have prohibited the use of funds in violation of President Obama’s executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against their LGBT employees.

Comstock was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates before voters in the 10th congressional district elected her to succeed then-Congressman Frank Wolf in 2014.

Bennett notes Comstock in 2012 voted in favor of a bill that allows private adoption and foster care agencies to reject prospective parents based on religious or moral beliefs. Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish and state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) are among those who criticized the measure that then-Gov. Bob McDonnell signed.

Comstock supported gay Richmond Circuit Court Judge Tracy Thorne-Begland’s nomination. She also voted for a 2013 bill that sought to strengthen schools’ anti-bullying policies.

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, has designated the race between Comstock and Bennett as a “toss-up.”

Comstock’s campaign did not return the Washington Blade’s requests for comment.

The Human Rights Campaign has endorsed Bennett and state Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico County), who is running against Henrico County Sheriff Mike Wade in the 4th congressional district. It also backs Congressmen Don Beyer, Gerry Connolly and Bobby Scott’s re-election bids.

Van Hollen poised to succeed Mikulski

In Maryland, Congressman Chris Van Hollen is expected to easily defeat state Del. Kathy Szeliga (R-Baltimore and Harford Counties) in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.).

Van Hollen told the Blade in February that advancing LGBT-specific issues was “a priority of mine” when he served in the Maryland General Assembly from 1991-2003.

He was among the members of the Maryland Senate who led the effort in support of a 2001 bill that banned discrimination based on sexual orientation in Maryland. Van Hollen also donated more than $20,000 to the campaign that urged voters to support the state’s 2012 same-sex marriage law.

Van Hollen is also a co-sponsor of the Equality Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to federal civil rights law.

“If you haven’t organized around a specific proposal, you’re starting from way behind,” he told the Blade. “So putting forward the Equality Act, pushing for it every day will hasten the day when that will become the law of the land.”

State Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County) is expected to easily defeat Dan Cox, a Frederick County attorney, in the race to succeed Van Hollen in the U.S. House of Representatives. Former Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown, who lost to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in 2014, will likely succeed outgoing Congresswoman Donna Edwards.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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