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by Brandon Jarvis

Christopher Stone, a Republican challenger to a two-term delegate in the House is doubling down on his statements that LGBTQ legislation passed during the last two years infringes upon the freedoms of Virginians. Stone is running against Del. Danica Roem D-Prince William in House District 13. 

Roem was the first openly transgender person to be elected to a state legislature in the United States in 2017. Then when the Democrats took control of the House and Senate in 2019, she helped lead the charge in the General Assembly to pass a long slate of LGBTQ inclusive legislation. 

Now she is running against Stone, a candidate that is pushing back against that legislation.

According to reporting from the Washington Blade, Stone said in an interview that he does not believe same-sex couples should have adoption rights. He described it as judges legislating from the bench and compared it to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1857 decision in the Dred Scott case that said slaves and their descendants were not American citizens. Stone said the editor made changes to the reporter’s draft in his Facebook post, but he did not deny anything from the article. 

In a new statement posted to his Facebook Sunday, Stone reaffirmed his position on several issues including the new LGBTQ laws in Virginia. “Many citizens in the district are concerned that many of the LGBTQ bills pushed by Roem are worded in a way that, while helping LGBTQ citizens, it feels like it is also infringing on the religious freedom, and freedom of speech of those non-LGBTQ citizens,” Stone wrote on his Facebook. 

“Saying that ‘it feels like it is infringing’ is a world of difference than the Courts validating that claim as fact,” Roem said in a statement to Virginia Scope Monday. “And the fact of the matter is every single LGBTQ equality bill we’ve passed since 2020 is law of the land. In fact, the challenge to the Virginia Values Act was dismissed due to a lack of standing.”

In an interview with Virginia Scope Monday, Stone said that people are afraid to speak their views and that is why he believes that Democratic-led legislation is an infringement on freedom of speech. “People are walking on eggshells if they have a different view,” Stone said in an interview. “Everybody is afraid that if they say something they’re going to be attacked. That’s not freedom, that’s fear.” 

The legislation that was passed and Stone opposes prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, with creditors, with housing and real estate, and with public companies. 

The Human Rights Campaign has listed Virginia under their second-highest index rating as “solidifying equality.” 

These new laws also made it easier for people to sue employers for discrimination. This is something that Stone said people complain to him about when he is campaigning. “Someone posts something that is pro-traditional marriage for example and they get smeared by people who are saying that these people are haters and all this kind of stuff when they don’t have an inch of hateful bone in their body, they just have a traditional world view,” Stone said in an interview. 

Equality groups have praised the legislation passed by the General Assembly over the last two years. “This law will have a transformative and positive impact on the lives of LGBTQ Virginians and bring Virginia into alignment with its voters,” said Vee Lamneck, the executive director of Equality Virginia when this legislation was passed in 2020. 

Roem was elected in 2017 when she defeated the 16-year incumbent by eight points along with the 14 other Democrats that flipped Republican seats in Virginia that cycle. She was reelected in 2019 and increased her margin of victory to 12 points. 

“If you are exclusionary like my challenger, then you are going to lose,” Roem said in an interview recently. “The people of the 13th district aren’t putting up with this anymore.”

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By vascope