Va. gay group backs challenger in Assembly race Gay Incumbent Joannou has frequently sided with GOP, frustrating some.
By ELIZABETH PERRY Friday, May 18, 2007
For the first time in its 15-year history, the Virginia Partisans Gay & Lesbian Democratic Club has come out against a Democratic incumbent in a General Assembly race and endorsed his rival in the primary, which is scheduled for June 5. Last week, the gay group announced its endorsements for 24 incumbent Virginia legislators for the fall races.
John Joannou (D-Portsmouth) has represented the 79th District, which includes parts of Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk and Portsmouth, since 1998. His challenger is Henry Light, a retired attorney who has been active in various civic, charitable and professional organizations in the South Hampton Roads area.
Light has attracted the attention of former Gov. Mark Warner, who is expected to endorse him at a fund-raising breakfast in Portsmouth Saturday.
Both candidates were contacted by the Blade for interviews, but Joannou did not respond. He also did not respond to the Partisan’s candidate questionnaire on gay issues. Light filled out the questionnaire and talked to the Blade. In his questionnaire answers and in an interview with the Blade, Light said he believes in equality, tolerance and a “level playing field” for everyone.
“I have always sought to be totally inclusive in all of my personal and professional relationships,” he said. “I strongly believe that everyone is entitled to the pursuit of happiness and that no one has the right to deny that freedom to anyone. Laws aimed at punishing people for their sexual orientation are gross violations of the rights of those individuals.”