June 5, 2017 at 6:04 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Northam: Trump is ‘embarrassing’

Ralph Northam, gay news, Washington Blade

Virginia Lieutenant Gov. Ralph Northam is looking to succeed Gov. Terry McAuliffe. (Photo courtesy of Ralph Northam for Governor of Virginia)

Virginia Lieutenant Gov. Ralph Northam on Monday described President Trump as “unacceptable and embarrassing.”

“Virginians want someone who will stand up to his hatred and bigotry,” Northam told the Washington Blade during a telephone interview.

“He is a narcissist,” he added.

Northam spoke with the Blade eight days before he and former Congressman Tom Perriello will face off in the Democratic primary. Former Republican National Committee Chair Ed Gillespie is among the Republicans who are vying to succeed Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Northam entered politics to ‘make a difference’

Northam, 57, was born on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

He became a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army after he graduated from the Virginia Military Institute.

Northam completed a pediatric residency at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio and child neurology fellowships at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in D.C. and Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He was among the doctors at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany who treated wounded soldiers during Operation Desert Storm.

Northam served eight years of active duty, rising to the rank of major. He began to practice pediatric neurology at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk after Operation Desert Storm.

Northam told the Blade he decided to run for the Virginia Senate in 2007, in part, because he had “a lot of frustrations with the insurance companies.”

“I spent more time on the phone with insurance companies than with my patients,” he said. “It was just very frustrating.”

Northam also noted cleaning up Chesapeake Bay was among the other issues about which he was concerned.

“I figured I could be a bystander or make a difference,” he said.

Northam attended Va. marriage case plaintiffs’ wedding

Northam has been Virginia’s lieutenant governor since 2014.

He cast the tie-breaking vote in the state Senate that allowed the passage of a bill that sought to ban discrimination against state and local government employees because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Northam has repeatedly criticized North Carolina’s House Bill 2, which banned transgender people from using public bathrooms consistent with their gender identity and prohibited municipalities from enacting LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination measures.

Northam attended the 2015 wedding of Tim Bostic and Tony London, two men from Norfolk who are among the same-sex couples who filed a federal lawsuit against Virginia’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Northam on Monday told the Blade he is “very proud of what” McAuliffe has done to advance LGBT-specific issues in Virginia, which includes vetoing a bill earlier this year that critics contend would have allowed discrimination against gay and lesbian couples. Northam also said Herring — who announced in 2014 that he would no longer defend the marriage amendment — has “done courageous work in Virginia.”

“We have worked very hard on equality,” Northam told the Blade, while noting anti-LGBT discrimination persists in Virginia’s schools and in the workplace.

Equality Virginia’s political action committee last month endorsed Northam.

James Parrish, the group’s executive director, noted during a conference call that Northam and Equality Virginia have a “shared vision of Virginia that is free from discrimination.” Parrish also noted the lieutenant governor has stood “side-by-side with our community every day” since his election to the Virginia Senate.

Virginia’s statewide nondiscrimination bill does not include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Northam on Monday said there is still “a lot of work to do” to combat anti-LGBT discrimination in Virginia. He told the Blade these efforts begin with “good leadership.”

“I will be a brick wall and stand against any type of legislation that discriminates against anyone, particularly against the LGBT community,” said Northam.

Northam: Anti-LGBT delegate’s trans opponent is ‘courageous’

Northam also praised Danica Roem, a transgender journalist who is challenging state Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William County) in the 13th District.

Marshall, who has been in the Virginia House of Delegates since 1992, is among the General Assembly’s most vocal opponents of LGBT rights. Roem would become the first openly trans person elected to the General Assembly if she defeats the Prince William County Republican in November.

“People like Bob Marshall, they need to go,” Northam told the Blade.

He described Roem as “courageous.”

“I’m totally supportive of her,” said Northam.

Northam: ‘Good chance’ Trump could be impeached

The race to succeed McAuliffe is seen as a referendum on Trump and his administration’s policies.

Northam describes Trump as a “narcissistic maniac” in a television ad that continues to air in the D.C. media market.

“He’s very dangerous,” Northam told the Blade.

Northam said Trump lies and has no empathy, pointing out he mocked disabled New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski during his presidential campaign.

“That’s all I needed to see,” said Northam.

Northam also told the Blade there is a “good chance” that Trump could be impeached over his alleged ties to Russia’s interference with last year’s election. Northam said he is confident that U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) — who is the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee — and other members of Virginia’s congressional delegation will conduct a thorough investigation.

“This business with Russia is very eye-opening,” said Northam. “We’ve just seen the surface of it.”

He also pointed out to the Blade that Warner has endorsed his campaign along with U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), McAuliffe and Herring.

“It’s all about relationships,” said Northam as he discussed Perriello. “This is something that I have fought for for 10 years. There are continued attacks coming from the other side of the aisle.”

Northam further suggested Perriello does not fully understand the issues and has the relationships in order to effectively govern Virginia.

“I’ve been in Virginia for the last 10 years,” said Northam. “I’ve been in a lot of fights, rallies, a lot of protests. I don’t remember seeing him at those. I’m all about Virginia. I have the relationships.”

Editor’s note: The Blade is scheduled to interview Perriello on Wednesday morning.

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

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