Loudoun supervisors tried to soften the collective community tone regarding a proposed resolution to recognize June as LGBT Pride Month, but speakers during the Board of Supervisors business meeting on Tuesday had a different notion.
Supporters and opponents of Supervisor Kristen C. Umstattd’s (D-Leesburg) resolution stood their ground, with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocates calling it a needed measure, and some opponents calling it an affront to their beliefs. Other opponents said board resolutions were not the place for such a statement.
Nick Harding, of Sterling, said members of the LGBT community live in fear of discrimination, making more difficult to experience pride.
“That discrimination, to the extent that is comes, or happens, happens because the straight community, or at least people in the straight community, have not had had their consciousness raised and are the ones who are discriminating,” he said.
But state Sen. Richard H. Black (R-13) pushed back, saying such measures cater to a narrow portion of the population.
“I don’t believe it reflects the public sentiment of the county,” Black said. “We really do not need our consciousness raised.”
Black then said members of the LGBT community have higher incomes, lower unemployment and more disposable income that the average person.
“Many families face greater struggles,” Black said. “If discrimination exists, it certainly is not one that they have to deal with.”
Black further responded to comments Umstattd made in June in which she called supporting the resolution the “decent and Christian thing to do,” saying LGBT advocates should not invoke Christianity. Rather than single out any group, Black said supervisors should “celebrate the entire community.”
Rev. Anya Sammler-Michael, a minister at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Sterling, spoke about the need to show support for the LGBT community because they face discrimination and greater rates of depression.
“Our youth struggle to see their own inherent worth and dignity, and out of desperation they take their own lives,” she said, pointing to a 2015 spike in suicides in Loudoun.
When Patrick Henry College student Andrew Bambrick said the LGBT community “has already achieved their stated goal,” NOVA Pride president and executive director Brian Reach responded, “We didn’t just want gay marriage.”
Rev. Bill Cook weighed in as well, saying LBGT issues are being conflated with race issues, and that those who oppose homosexuality based on religious convictions are made to feel “inhumane and bigoted.”
“God forbids sodomy,” he said, adding that is the board were to approve a measure such as the LGBT Pride Month resolution, “there will be divine intervention at some level.”
Supervisors never had the opportunity to vote on the LGBT Pride resolution, instead to adopting the Love Loudoun substitute resolution offered by Supervisor Ron Meyer (R-Broad Run). They also changed the Board’s rules of order to prevent resolutions from reaching the dais without concurrence of the chair and vice chair, and from being adopted without unanimous support.