Written by Brett Curtis (Curry '18, MPP '19) and Jackson Samples (CLAS '20)
Just recently, a small group of LGBT Virginians formed with the express purpose of electing Lieutenant Governor candidate Jill Vogel, a Republican State Senator. The group, “LGBT Virginians for Vogel”, makes the astonishing and farfetched claim that she is “the best candidate to represent the LGBT community.” Frankly, to make such an assertion is insulting, and looking at her record, it is evident that her election would be a significant step back for Civil Rights of all Virginians in the Commonwealth.
While Senator Vogel touts her time in the Senate as a selling point of her candidacy, her tenure has been characterized by votes that work to render LGBTQ+ individuals as second class citizens. As recently as 2016, Vogel voted for a religious freedom bill which would specifically allow discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals that seek to marry legally under the law. In 2012, Vogel voted for HB189, which permits child-placing agencies to refuse to place a child in the care of a gay couple and furthermore prohibits state or local governments from denying child-placing agencies funding because of such policies, no matter how homophobic or transphobic they are. Senator Vogel also voted against SB66, which would have made it illegal to discriminate against LGBTQ+ Virginians when they apply for state government jobs, and against SB747 which aimed to prohibit discrimination in state employment on the basis of sexual orientation.
Often without any explanation, Vogel has voted to enshrine bigotry in policy and public funding, a direct attack on LGBTQ+ rights. It is hypocritical for Vogel to claim she “opposes all discrimination” while simultaneously standing for legislation that promotes the discrimination of LGBTQ+ Virginians. Worse, she shamefully hides behind party line votes in making legislative decisions and refuses to fully condemn all attempts to deny LGBTQ+ individuals equal protection under the law. This renders her campaign slogan - “Principle before party”- meaningless.
"It is hypocritical for Vogel to claim she “opposes all discrimination” while simultaneously standing for legislation that promotes the discrimination of LGBTQ+ Virginians."
While Vogel has a few positive votes on her record, her inability to make a principled and complete legislative stand for the LGBTQ+ community is worrisome. Senator Vogel’s record in the General Assembly is indicative of a legislator who, at worst, believes LGBTQ+ Virginians do not deserve the same rights and opportunities as others. At best, her record highlights that fundamental human rights of the Commonwealth’s citizens can be pushed aside for the electoral support of the far-right and hardline religious groups.
Even Bearing Drift, the extremely conservative Virginia political website, has noted Vogel’s “puzzling lurch to the Right” in which she is “suddenly taking up far right social causes [and] earning endorsements from controversial social warriors within the party...” Take, for example, one of Vogel’s recent ads which negatively portrayed transgender student protection policies in an attempt to gain donations from extreme conservatives. And picking up endorsements from the the likes of E.W. Jackson - the 2013 Republican L.G. Candidate and anti-gay activist - are not helpful in displaying a message of equality and inclusiveness.
Vogel’s colorblind rhetoric and harmful legislative agenda would clearly hurt many across the Commonwealth in a variety of ways and her refusal to acknowledge the persistence of systemic racism (see her record on voting rights, law enforcement) means that her tenure would be particularly detrimental to LGBTQ+ people of color. Economic insecurity, physical violence, and injustices within the criminal justice system have a compounded, negative effect on these individuals and such abhorrent disparities deserve the attention of one running for statewide office (but are noticeably all absent from her platform).
Further, attacks on any particular group of Virginians cannot be tolerated in any form, and Vogel’s positions elsewhere should give great pause for anyone considering supporting her. Remember, Vogel is the same State Senator who:
As a final note, it is important to underscore how misleading the Blade’s headline about the LGBT Virginians for Vogel group is. This is not a pre-existing group whose endorsement carries weight, but a new organization founded solely to purport some LGBTQ+ endorsement of Vogel’s candidacy. The group exists purely as an optic scheme and in no way represents a broader LGBTQ+ community group.
Ultimately, Vogel’s record is clear: on numerous occasions, she has cast votes that attack the basic human dignity of LGBTQ+ and other Virginians. That’s no friend of, nor someone who should be desired as, a representative of the LGBTQ+ community or the Commonwealth of Virginia.
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