Loudoun Board Won’t Press for Equal Rights Amendment

Loudoun County supervisors will not ask state legislators to support the Equal Rights Amendment, following first a vetoed resolution and then a vote this month.

Early Friday morning, county supervisors voted not to include ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment in its state legislative agenda, a packet of positions and policies the county government distributes to state lawmakers and lobbyists.

“This board should be focused on things that the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors can directly affect,” said Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn). “A classic example tonight was Rt. 15. We directly affect what occurs there. We will make changes. The General Assembly doesn’t’ care what we think.”

Earlier this month, Buona blocked a resolution in support of the Equal Rights Amendment from coming to the Board of Supervisors for a vote. Under the board’s rules of order, either the chairman and vice chairman may veto resolutions—which do not carry any lawmaking authority—from coming to a board meeting.

The Equal Rights Amendment is an amendment to the U.S. Constitution first introduced in 1921 and since reintroduced that seeks to outlaw discrimination based on gender. Its supporters say Virginia would be the 38th and final state needed to ratify it, but others say there are as few as 31 states supporting the amendment, and that the deadline to ratify has expired.

“If I was in the General Assembly I think I’d support this amendment, so I have no problem with it,” Supervisor Ron Meyer (R-Broad Run) said. “So if I was state senator, or in the House of Delegates, I would have no problem supporting it.” But he, too, argued it’s not an issue for Loudoun’s legislative agenda.

“This board functions well despite our partisan differences and our disagreements because we don’t let ourselves get bogged down,” said Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles), arguing adopting a position on the Equal Rights Amendment would open the board to debating any number of issues not particular to Loudoun.

Some of the debate centered on whether remarks by late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia meant he believed women are not guaranteed equal protection under the Constitution.

“When you’re trying to interpret Justice Scalia’s remarks and you’re on the Board of Supervisors, it’s a pretty good indication you’re a little off track,” Letourneau said.

The Equal Rights Amendments’ only champion on the board, Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large), said “the thing that’s the most shocking to me about this whole conversation is we’re having this conversation in 2018.”

“Mr. Meyer, you said if you could vote for this you would. Well, you can, and you chose not to,” Randall said, calling it a “money where your mouth is moment.”

Supervisors voted 5-1-1-2 not to include the Equal Rights Amendment in its agenda. Supervisors Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge), Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin), Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn), Kristen C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg), and Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) voted not to include it, with Randall opposed, Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run) abstained, and Suzanne M. Volpe (R-Algonkian) and Koran T. Saines (D-Sterling) were absent.

The debate was the last item on a meeting that began Thursday and lasted nearly eight hours, adjourning just before 1 a.m.

rgreene@loudounnow.com

3 thoughts on “Loudoun Board Won’t Press for Equal Rights Amendment

  • 2018-09-22 at 10:35 am
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    A glaring problem with this article. Chair Randell does not deserve the inferences made about her and her position on the ERA amendment. Twice during this meeting, Supervisor Umstattd made motions to have the board vote yes on the ERA amendment by making amendments to the motion not to consider the ERA amendment, and both times Chair Randell ruled that the motions would not be heard by the Board. So, who really was faking their position? Chair Randell needs to understand that she cannot run over members of the Board, and then fake her position to the public. It does not take long for the public to figure out that Chair Randell cannot be trusted. By Chair Randell refusing to have this fairly voted on, and now postures that she cares about it, is sad

  • 2018-09-24 at 7:59 am
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    @Lawgh as a shill for Umstattd, I understand your pursuit of this red herring. But as most of the sensible supervisors pointed out, this is far outside the scope of what is proper for the BoS to be considering. Yet Umstattd persisted in wasting their time with multiple attempts to play amateur hour national politics. Perhaps it is time to move her even further away from where she can cause problems and elect her to some statewide office?

  • 2018-09-24 at 10:25 am
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    Wow, someone advocating Supervisor Umstattd for governor. I am sure Leesburg residents would support your idea, TownBully. However, your comment seems to ignore the purpose of a post, and the flaw in the article itself. Chair Randell posed on this issue as the only one interested in equal rights amendments to the United States Constitution, making an argument of putting your money where your mouth is. Well, then why did Chair Randell block two motions from Supervisor Umstattd that would have allowed a fair vote on this matter. Clearly, Supervisor Randell has an ulterior motive here, and she needs to admit that, and stop trying to fool the public.

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