Faced With LGBT Pride Resolution, Supervisors Substitute Love Loudoun Month

Supervisors voted to change its rules of order Tuesday and create Love Loudoun Month in July instead of adopt a controversial resolution to recognize June as LGBT Pride Month.

An earlier draft of the change required a majority vote by supervisors before adding a resolution to the agenda, but the rules change was modified to require the chairman and vice chairman, who set board agendas, to both agree to put a resolution on the board’s agenda—effectively giving two supervisors veto power over resolutions.

“I do think that ceremonial resolutions are called ceremonial resolutions for a reason,” said Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large). “What’s important to me is that people’s voices are heard, and we don’t have to do that through resolutions.” The board generally approves several resolutions each month, usually unanimously and without debate.

Instead, Randall suggested supervisors use their designated board comment period to make their constituent’s voices heard if necessary, and that future agendas change to move the board comment period earlier in the evening. Currently, supervisors make their comments and disclosures at the end of the meetings, often late at night and after all but a handful of staff have left the board room.

“If you want to do something like celebrate a community or something like that, you do it in your board comments instead of a resolution,” Randall said.

Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) agreed that resolutions are not the vehicle for conversations like the board’s recent debates over gun violence awareness and LGBT Pride Month.

[Read about the Loudoun County Republican Committee’s outcry at the LGBT Pride Month resolution.]

“I think perhaps the chair and vice chair have a fairly good idea of what the intent of this is, and the two of them would be able to screen out resolutions that would have the type of problems that we’ve had, particularly if it’s the two of them deciding together,” Letourneau said.

The change to the board’s rules of order specifies that “all Resolutions shall be focused on honoring exceptional acts of County residents or staff, celebrating community service of Loudoun’s residents and groups, remembering history, or promoting awareness of issues directly relating to County operations.”

Supervisor Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run) reads his Love Loudoun Month resolution. (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)
Supervisor Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run) reads his Love Loudoun Month resolution. (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)

Both the rules change and Love Loudoun Month were championed by Supervisor Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run).

“My staff does not have the capability to deal with hundreds and hundreds of emails about subjects outside our purview,” Meyer said.

Randall (D-At Large) offered the amendment removing the need for a majority vote of the board to include a resolution on the agenda, and board Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn) offered an amendment to require the chairman and vice chairman agree to put any resolutions on the agenda.

The rules change was adopted 8-1, with Supervisor Kristen C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg) opposed. She had introduced the resolution to recognize June as LGBT Pride Month.

The Love Loudoun Month resolution says Loudoun County “stands in solidarity with the victims of the Orlando, Florida terrorist attack,” that “Loudoun County’s diversity helps make the County one of the best places to live, work and play in America,” and that “Loudoun County’s diversity is so rich we could honor a different group of extraordinary citizens every day.”

[Read the full Love Loudoun Month resolution here.]

The resolution followed impassioned speeches from supporters and opponents of Umstattd’s resolution in public comment to the board. Many reiterated arguments that the resolution divides Loudouners and the board and distracts the board from its duties.

Ahead of the board’s vote, Virginia Sen. Richard H. Black (R-13) argued that, considering homosexuals’ higher than average income and disposable income, they do not face discrimination. He also asked that Christianity not be used to argue for LGBT Pride Month.

Senator Richard H. Black (R-13). (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)
Senator Richard H. Black (R-13). (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)

“While Christianity certainly is for forgiveness, I don’t think some of the practices are approved by Holy Scripture,” Black said.

Andrew Bambrick, a sophomore at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, said the motion was unnecessary.

“The LGBT community has already achieved their stated goal: equality before the law,” Bambrick said, referencing a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June 2015, Obergefell v. Hodges, requiring states recognize same-sex marriages.

Others spoke in favor of the resolution, some from very personal experience. Rising Dominion High School senior Shane Crow said he had seen LGBT students face discrimination in school.

Rising Dominion High School senior Shane Crow. (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)
Rising Dominion High School senior Shane Crow. (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)

“I heard that LGBT is already considered equal in the law,” Crow said. “Well, even if that is the case, it is very hard to feel or recognize that we are equal under the law if we are not treated equally in society itself.”

Amy Cannava, co-chairman of the National Association of School Psychologist’s LGBTQI2-S Committee, said after the Obergefell decision, many students were not celebrating.

“Instead, students reminded me how ostracized they felt to be recognized by a nation, but not supported by their own parents,” Cannava said.

“We didn’t just want marriage,” said Brian Reach, president and executive director of NOVA Pride. “We wanted dignity and equality.” He pointed out that LGBT Pride Month is already recognized in the counties of Fairfax and Arlington and cities of Fairfax, Falls Church, Alexandria, and the Town of Herndon, as well as by the state.

Supervisors also traded personal stories. Randall told the board about her niece, who came out at 24 years old.

“She said, ‘I’ve tried not to be gay my whole life. I don’t want to be gay… I would give anything if I were not gay,’ and she apologized and she said, ‘I’m sorry for being gay,'” Randall said. “…I can’t imagine going through my whole life being so scared to say it even to your loving family because of how you think they might react.”

Supervisor Suzanne M. Volpe (R-Algonkian) said she has a homosexual sibling and a homosexual cousin, who are dear to her, but opposed the LGBT Pride Month resolution.

“We cannot legislate hatred out of someone’s heart,” Volpe said. “The way you look, where you came from, your educational background, your ethnicity or sexual orientation, any of that. The only thing we can do is pray that God changes people’s hearts and minds.”

Ultimately, Love Loudoun Month was substituted for the LGBT Pride Month resolution. It passed 5-4, with Randall, Umstattd, Volpe, and Supervisor Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin) opposed.

Following the vote, Randall rebuked the Loudoun County Republican and Democratic committees.

“We have a combined board,” Randall said. “Not only do we have to work together, we should work together for the good of the county… Yes, I am chair, but Mr. Buona is vice chair, but to be honest—and let’s just shock the whole county—we agree on about 85 percent of everything.”

She disputed the notion that debates like those over Gun Violence Awareness Day and LGBT Pride Month divide the board.

“This is what a working body that doesn’t always agree, but knows how to disagree without being disagreeable, looks like,” Randall said. “It means you make compromises, it means you bend.”


10 thoughts on “Faced With LGBT Pride Resolution, Supervisors Substitute Love Loudoun Month

  • 2016-07-05 at 11:26 pm

    Love Loudoun Month. I think I like it, not withstanding the hurtful and hateful things my State Rep and State Senator said along the way. Let’s celebrate the heck out of all of our diversity!!!

    “Whereas, Loudoun County is home to citizens of all faiths, ethnic origins, and members of the LGBT community; and
    Whereas, Loudoun County’s diversity helps make the County one of the best places to live, work and play in America…”

  • 2016-07-06 at 7:53 am

    This is all so embarrassing. So “Faced with LGBT Pride…” our board of Supervisors, led by the valiant Mr. Meyer, changed the name of a resolution, the text of a resolution, and the process for addressing resolutions so folks like Volpe wouldn’t have to explain to the frightened but vocal minority of their constituents that they supported a Pride resolution. A scared lot who are probably furious that the word “LGBT” ended up in the resolution at all.
    Congratulations to the board on straddling the fence on this issue in the most awkward way possible.

  • 2016-07-06 at 3:28 pm

    Based upon the content of this article, this clearly was not Supervisor Chair Randall’s finest hour. Far from it. Her statements as quoted are, to say the least, very disappointing. Why would she have made a motion that guarantees the squashing of public participation by the citizens of Loudoun County. So, no matter how important the issue may be, the most that Supervisor Randall will now allow, is a statement, limited in time, and impact, during comments sections of a meeting. Maybe the citizens of Loudoun County should think twice with Supervisor Randall “claims” she wants to hear from us. Clearly, her actions speak louder than her words, and the last thing Supervisor Randall really wants is to hear from us, little people.

    • 2016-07-06 at 9:05 pm

      I think Lawgh is confused. Lawgh, you should attend a BOS meeting. You see the “little people” (aka citizens) speak at the beginning during public comment period. If you work really, really hard maybe you can get all 30 of the Loudoun folks who asked for this resolution in the first place. If you have more, Randall and the BOS will all get to “hear from you”.

      But wait, it doesn’t stop there. Each supervisor can speak during their personal time at the end. With the 3 progressives on the dais, you could easily get 75 minutes at each meeting (30 x 2 min each + 3 x 5 min each). Is 75 minutes at each meeting not enough?

      Well, cheer up. They have these things called “public forums”. You know – sidewalks, parks, public grounds. You can march, protest, let your voices be heard. You can show us why you are so proud of the lifestyle of these special interest groups. However, I’m not sure every Loudoun citizen would be “proud”. Treated equally, sure. But “proud”? This is more likely what Loudoun citizens are proud of.

  • 2016-07-07 at 8:39 am

    Another failed effort by Umstattdt. 23 years of failure in Town and how with the County. Pandering is her only success.

  • 2016-07-07 at 9:00 am

    My first reaction to the Great Defender, is that I think those who she or he claims she or he will sue, or is suing, should start copying her or his comments to these articles, as it makes it very clear that she or he clearly agrees with censorship and governments denying its citizens constitutional rights. I wonder is she or he says the things said in these comments, in a courtroom. I doubt it very much. And my point still stands. Supervisor Chair Randall has not ended Loudoun residents’ chances to have a say in their government. Not a good thing.

  • 2016-07-07 at 11:58 am

    Lawgh, I’ve got an invitation for you. Why don’t you join us at 10:00am in courtroom 701 in the Alexandria federal courthouse tomorrow to hear arguments on my case? Unfortunately, I won’t get to speak but both my attorney and the LCSB attorneys will. As seen by both Plowman’s and LCSB’s exhibits, they are keenly aware of what I write and say in public. And no, in court I don’t refute anything I say in public. How about this… I’ll post the transcript so you can scrutinize it all you want.

    I can only assume it was a typo to say that Randall has not ended citizens’ chance to have a say .. not a good thing. But I do agree that the BOS didn’t block anybody from speaking. Let me explain how the free speech law (and its intent) (note that I am not a lawyer and this is my interpretation):

    1. In a public forum, you can say virtually anything you want.

    2. In a “limited public forum” as many of the BOS/LCSB meetings are, you can only speak on topics related to the meeting. You can still do that now at any BOS meeting. In fact, the general meetings let you speak on virtually anything unbounded by topic.

    3. In meetings or on most gov’t property, they can control what is being said. They establish reasonable rules. For example, I wanted LCSB so talk about SGPs. How they failed to follow federal rules despite receiving the money? How SGPs demonstrate we have some ineffective teachers who are routinely promoted. But I can’t force them to talk about it. Thus, I speak at the public comments, on gov’t blogs, on private blogs (here) and on my own blogs.

    It appears as though Lawgh is saying “free speech” should allow me to force LCSB to discuss VAMs. That’s simply wrong. I’m saying it here and will affirm in court. Tom Marshall thought banning me was completely unreasonable (as did others). But because other LCSB members (who will be held accountable for that) won’t second an item on the LCSB agenda, it cannot be discussed in an LCSB meeting outside members’ individual time. I don’t necessary like those rules but they are legal. And contrary to the LGBT issue where the BOS has no authority, LCSB is directly involved in retaliating against a parent (me) for publicly criticizing them. They could have rescinded the no-trespass ban at any time, including during the meetings in which they stated I had never disrupted any student events (or posed a threat).

    I have never advocated that random citizens should be able to interrupt meetings or set their own rules. The rules and the law is established for a reason. Legislators and judges determine what fundamental rights we have and how the enforcement of those rights affect public policy.

    As to the “Great Defender” title, that’s amusing. I can only assume you mean I am defending our constitutional rights such as free speech. I would hope that you could defend something for once. Either come up with a rational coherent argument or join the military. At least contribute something!

  • 2016-07-08 at 1:47 pm

    Thank you, sgp. Yes, it was a typo. Ms. Randall clearly is now on the side of blocking citizen participation in Loudoun County government actions. And no, I do not think you understand the incredible inconsistency in what you say about your lawsuits, and what you say about government officials when someone else criticizes those governmental officials. I suspect it is because you don’t take the time to think about why you comment, but at the very least, you are entertaining, which does mean something. Right?

  • 2016-07-08 at 8:39 pm

    Lawgh, speaking of entertainment, you would get laughed out of court.

    LCSB claims that I believe I should be able to speak anywhere I want. I have never claimed as much.

    LCSB claims I want to force it to consider various educational topics in their meeting. Not true. I would hope I can shame them into following educational law and they should discuss such topics, but I have never pretended I had a right to force them to discuss anything.

    Congress sets rules. Virginia’s legislature sets rules. The BOS sets rules. LCSB sets rules. You simply don’t like the rule they set. If it were up to me, I would ban all proclamations period in the BOS. Such proclamations are simply political pandering. It’s not up to me. It’s up to the BOS.

    Take advantage of every communication channel you have. Create your own “birdie cards” to distribute. Create your own Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. Dress provocatively and draw attention. Get on TV. Exercise your free speech rights that our brave men and women have bestowed on you (no, I don’t think we are “endowed” with inalienable rights, I think they are hard won rights by folks who are willing to defend them). But stop the nonsense that you should be able to dictate wherever and whenever you wish to speak.

  • 2016-07-10 at 5:15 pm

    Thank you, sgp, for reinforcing my point. And, again, thanks to Ms. Randall, we Loudoun residents have now lost a valuable ability to seek from our local government a statement, in the form of resolutions, that can honor or memorialize important topics or events – all in the form of a shameless power grab by Ms. Randall.

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