Westboro Baptist Church’s attack on the nation’s first openly transgender state representative hasn’t gone quite as they probably planned.
Instead of bringing down the wrath of God on Virginia state Delegate Danica Roem, the rabidly anti-LGBTQ church triggered an avalanche of donations to her re-election campaign. As of this writing, Roem has raised almost $30,000 from over 800 donors from all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, since the rabidly anti-LGBTQ group announced a protest aimed at her.
In a bizarrely worded press release laden with anti-trans hate speech, WBC — infamous for protesting military funerals and LGBTQ Pride events — announced plans to picket near Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and the Virginia State Capitol on March 11. The group also accused the Virginia State Assembly of “harboring an enemy of God” in Roem.
VCU acknowledged that the first amendment protects the group’s message, but added, “Hate speech does not reflect VCU’s core values of diversity, inclusion and respect for all.”
VCU is aware of Westboro Baptist Church's plans to demonstrate on a public city sidewalk near the center of the Monroe Park Campus. VCU did not invite WBC nor did WBC contact VCU about the demonstration. An entry in a VCU calendar for the event was an error and has been removed. pic.twitter.com/5xrWTmqlVr
— VCU (@VCU) March 1, 2019
Roem was aware of Westboro’s plans but didn’t want to draw attention to the group. That all changed when their protest plans made the local news. Roem used her response to invite supporters to donate to her re-election campaign.
My response to “WBC hurls slurs at @pwcdanica.” — and please use this quote in its entirety as I put the amount of thought the situation warrants into it:
Roem went on to add:
— Danica Roem (@pwcdanica) March 1, 2019
Roem’s supporters responded, and donations came flooding in from all over the country, while the hashtag #WestboroBackfire picked up traction across social media.
Among those pledging donations was LGBTQ Victory Fund Board Chair Chris Abele, who matched the first $5,000 raised, Roem confirms. Other donors include constituents from the four communities in her district: Haymarket, Gainesville, Manassas, and Manassas Park.
Roem made history in 2017 when she defeated anti-trans incumbent Del. Bob Marshal to become the first openly transgender American elected to a state legislature. Since then, three more out trans candidates have claimed victory in their bids for state office.