The LGBT Democrats of Virginia presents issues and acts as an advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning/queer persons within the Democratic Party of Virginia. The LGBT Democrats of Virginia also endorses and supports pro-equality Democrats running for public office. Since 1992, LGBT Democrats of Virginia and its predecessor organization, Virginia Partisans, have raised and contributed over $100,000 to pro-equality Democratic candidates.
In 1992, the Virginia Partisans Gay & Lesbian Democratic Club was founded as an outgrowth of an informal group of gays who had formed to help elect Jim Moran to Congress. Among the co-founders and early Presidents was Adam Ebbin, who a decade later (2003) was elected as the first openly gay member of the Virginia House of Delegates and in 2011 was elected as Virginia’s first openly gay state Senator. The purpose of the club was twofold: to help nominate and elect pro-equality Virginia Democrats to local, state and Federal office; and to encourage the support, participation and involvement of lesbians and gay men in the Democratic Party in Virginia. Virginia Partisans expanded its role over time, lobbying on issues affecting the LGBT community in party platforms and policies; vetting, endorsing, and supporting specific pro-equality Democratic candidates for nomination and election; and providing manpower and financial contributions to campaigns. Virginia Partisans became an affiliate of National Stonewall Democrats when that organization was founded in 1998.
In 2009, the LGBT Caucus of the Democratic Party of Virginia was formed as a sister group of the Virginia Partisans and was recognized as a caucus by the Democratic Party of Virginia. On December 4th, 2010, the Democratic Party of Virginia approved a petition to fully recognize the LGBT Caucus of the Democratic Party of Virginia, giving the organization a seat on the Party’s Steering Committee, something which Virginia Partisans had worked toward for over ten years. The Steering Committee is made up of statewide Party leadership, congressional district chairs, and representatives of recognized caucuses within the Party. This achievement ensured LGBT representation at the highest levels of the Democratic Party of Virginia. The Virginia Partisans began acting as the political action committee of the LGBT Caucus of the Democratic Party of Virginia. Collectively the two organizations became known as the LGBT Democrats of Virginia.
LGBT Democrats of Virginia hosted their first Equality Breakfast on June 29th, 2013, in Richmond, Virginia, in conjunction with a quarterly meeting of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia. The breakfast was a sold out event. Senator Mark Warner and Senator Tim Kaine were presented with The Mark R. Warner Award for Political Leadership for being the first and second Governors of Virginia, respectively, to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in public state employment via executive order in Virginia. Charley Conrad, a former President of Virginia Partisans, was awarded The Democratic Community Action Award for his steadfast activism to elect pro-equality candidates.
On September 28th, 2013, Virginia Partisans was officially absorbed into the LGBT Caucus of the Democratic Party of Virginia. The successor organization created a Vice-Chair of Candidate Endorsement seat on the organization’s Board, and also created an Endorsements and Contributions Committee. The Endorsements and Contributions Committee will continue the efforts of identifying and supporting pro-equality Democratic candidates which had previously been handled by the Virginia Partisans.
The resulting organization, which is known as the LGBT Democrats of Virginia, has a statewide focus, and a goal of supporting equality minded candidates across the Commonwealth.