Column attacking trans child published in Purcellville Gazette

The following column was published in the April 11 edition of the Purcellville Gazette after the editor, Kim Weber, was warned that it was riddled with known defamatory falsehoods and endangered a child. Ms. Weber was offered assistance and education by two different individuals in the community with expertise in this area, and failed to respond to those offers. The email from Equality Loudoun is reproduced below.

After being contacted by the child’s family’s attorney and others, Ms. Weber pulled the column from the Purcellville Gazette website. However, the same personally identifying information (redacted here) appears in the print edition of the paper, now distributed all over western Loudoun.

The column was also published earlier on a local political blog, “The Bull Elephant,” by Republican activist Jeanine Martin. It was sent to her by Delegate David LaRock (and initially attributed to him). We do not link to it here because it also contains the personal information endangering the child. The comments to that blog post follow at the end.

The removal of the online article by Ms. Weber constitutes acknowledgement of her poor judgment in publishing it. Unfortunately, she is unable to retract the print edition that has been distributed to, by the Gazette’s own estimation, “over 40,000 readers.” Other measures will be required to address the damage done by this entirely avoidable error in judgment.

Contact information:

Publisher & Editor-In-Chief: Kim Pregartner-Weber
Editor@PurcellvilleGazette.com.
Phone: 540.431.8507

Mailing Address:
PO Box 65
Purcellville, VA 20134

Physical Address:
130 North 21st Street
Purcellville, VA 20132

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Yes, Virginia, Marriage is a Fundamental Right

Special op-ed by David Weintraub published in the Purcellville Gazette, August 2 2014.

On November 7, 2006, Virginia voters were presented with the choice to add an amendment to our state constitution. This amendment would not only prohibit civil marriage between two people of the same sex – which had already been banned legislatively several times over – but would also ban any other “union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage,” or which “intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage.” This expansive language gave Virginia the dubious honor of having adopted the most extreme so-called “marriage amendment” in the nation.

In a decision announced Monday, The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals found that prohibition unconstitutional, joining an unbroken series of rulings affirming marriage as a fundamental right that cannot be denied because of gender.

At the time of the amendment’s passage (it was approved by 57 percent of voters), I was told jubilantly by a local supporter that it would “protect” his model of marriage in Virginia “for at least a decade.” This prediction has turned out to be remarkably accurate. In the past decade, we have witnessed a shift in opinion like no other toward support of the right for loving gay and lesbian couples to marry. At the same time, courts have come to the long overdue conclusion that the U.S. Constitution really does mean what it says about the rights guaranteed to ALL Americans.

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This week in anti-gay temper tantrums

First up: Oral arguments in Bostic v. Schaefer before the Fourth District Court of Appeals are scheduled for May 13. The court will be hearing the appeal of Judge Arenda Wright Allen’s ruling that struck down Virginia’s anti-marriage Marshall-Newman amendment.

The Virginia “Family” (not yours) Foundation, in anticipation, is holding a 40 day “fast.” Don’t be alarmed, though. They won’t starve, or even lose any weight. The word “fast,” according to the clarification that appears on their website, and contrary to its common meaning, “does not translate” to “hunger strike.” It only means temporarily giving up something you kind of enjoy, like Diet Coke. Yes, Diet Coke is actually the example they cite. This word salad, apparently intended to explain the aforementioned desperate action, also appears:

Our state and nation are mired in a morass of confusion and post-modern thinking that does not believe in absolutes nor that any truth can even be known..

Huh? A bizarre statement, until you realize that it perfectly describes their own post-modern thinking. Martyrdom is just not what it used to be.

Next, from the Magnolia State: As you might imagine, Mississippi, like Virginia, has no civil rights provisions protecting LGBTI people from discrimination. Unlike, for example, in New Mexico, it is perfectly legal for the proprietor of a Mississippi business or public accommodation to refuse service to someone on the basis of their actual or perceived gender presentation or sexual orientation. It’s also perfectly legal to fire someone, deny them housing, deny them a bank loan, or any other form of discrimination that would be prohibited if it were on the basis of race, nationality, or religion.

That wasn’t enough for those in the state who see imaginary violations of their constitutionally protected religious freedom in every shadow, however. Earlier this month, the state legislature passed a bill, similar to the one famously vetoed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, that reiterates the “right” to discriminate that anti-gay bigots in Mississippi already enjoy, and effectively expands their “right” to discriminate against anyone else they dislike as long as they claim the discrimination is motivated by a “sincerely held religious belief.”

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Religious freedom is for everybody

A funny thing happened when those who find marriage equality so upsetting started loudly complaining about alleged violations of their religious freedom: People whose religious freedom actually is being violated stepped forward.

As reported last month, the first ever Witness for Love held in Loudoun County drew a number of local clergy, who testified to being barred from performing the rites of marriage for same gender couples in accordance with their faith. Many people don’t realize that Virginia law includes a provision that makes it unlawful for an officiant to perform a marriage ceremony unless the couple has a legal marriage license. This provision does exactly what it sounds like it would do: It erases the supposed distinction between ‘civil’ and ‘religious’ marriage by restricting religious marriage celebration to what is permitted by civil law.

While no clergy or denomination ever has, nor ever will, be required to perform the rites of a same-gender marriage, an interracial marriage, an interfaith marriage, a marriage involving a divorced person, or any other marriage that fails to meet their particular religious criteria, those clergy and denominations that actively seek to celebrate the marriages of same gender couples in their communities are instead required to treat those couples as if they are unworthy of such celebration. That requirement (unlike the make-believe scenarios of anti-gay activists) is a very real and grievous violation of religious conscience. It unmistakably, to use the current language of the anti-gay crowd, “violates their sincerely held religious belief” in the equal dignity and humanity of their LGBT parishioners. Today, one of those denominations finally filed a lawsuit seeking the restoration of First Amendment rights to its clergy.

In what is believed to the first-ever challenge by a national Christian denomination of a state’s marriage laws, the UCC filed the lawsuit Monday morning, April 28, in U.S. District Court in Charlotte, N.C.

Under Amendment One, which passed in late 2012, it is a crime in the State of North Carolina for clergy to officiate a marriage ceremony without determining whether the couple involved has a valid marriage license. United Church of Christ ministers interested in conducting a religious marriage ceremony for same-gender couples could face up to 120 days of jail and/or probation and community service if found guilty, since North Carolina marriage laws define and regulate marriage as being between only a man and a woman. As lead plaintiff in this lawsuit against the State, the United Church of Christ asserts that these laws are unconstitutional and violate clergy’s First Amendment rights.

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Delgaudio attorney apparently switching sides

Leesburg Today reports that Charlie King, the attorney representing Eugene Delgaudio in the citizens’ effort to have Delgaudio removed from office by the Circuit Court, has filed a subpoena seeking documents from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The rationale for the subpoena, according to Charlie King:

“Almost every article written about Supervisor Delgaudio mentions the designation of Public Advocate as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center,” King said in an email statement. “The Sterling petitioners (in a petition to remove Delgaudio from office) cited Public Advocate’s hate group status as one basis for removing him from office. In today’s America, calling somebody a member of a hate group is serious.”

Yes, it certainly is. And now I don’t know who, if anyone, is in charge of strategy over at Public Advocate/Office of the Sterling Supervisor.

Regarding SPLC’s 2012 addition of “Public Advocate of the U.S.” to its short list of anti-gay organizations extreme enough to be called “active hate groups,” Delgaudio only sings one note. Every transparently planted online comment, every press release, every public utterance directed at Loudoun County we’ve seen has repeated the same monotonous talking point: That the SPLC designation was made “because Public Advocate upholds traditional marriage.”

The repetition of this talking point has been so consistent that it could not possibly be accidental. The propagation of this lie has been the centerpiece of Delgaudio’s public relations management of the revelations about the co-mingling of his hate group’s fundraising activities with the privileges of his public office.

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Virginia gets a Valentine

U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen begins her opinion striking down the Marshall-Newman amendment by quoting Mildred Loving:

We made a commitment to each other in our love and lives, and now had the legal commitment, called marriage, to match. Isn’t that what marriage is? . . . I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation’s fears and prejudices have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone they have a right to marry. Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. . . . I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.”

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More marriage news that will upset Bob Marshall

Update: As expected, Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto has filed a motion to withdraw the state’s brief in defense of Nevada’s ban on same sex marriage. A statement from Republican Governor Brian Sandoval’s office says “based upon the advice of the Attorney General’s office and their interpretation of relevant case law, it has become clear that this case is no longer defensible in court.” The only remaining party willing to defend the amendment is now the “Coalition for the Protection of Marriage,” the third party intervenor responsible for putting it on the ballot in 2002. Given the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hollingsworth v. Perry that such an intervenor does not have standing to appeal, it’s likely that a Ninth Circuit ruling in favor of the couples seeking to overturn the ban will be the end of the line for the so-called “Protection of Marriage Initiative.” The plaintiffs are seeking an expedited hearing.

Now, can we finally put to rest the notion that our Attorney General is “out there on a limb by himself,” per Mr. Marshall?

(Originally published January 27, 2014) Over the weekend there were two more developments toward the ultimate demise of anti-marriage state measures like Virginia’s Marshall-Newman Amendment.

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