Capital Pride Magazine
Equality Loudoun, the “Radical Homosexual Agenda”,
and our nefarious plan to penetrate the western suburbs. Oh my.
Loudoun County, VA, a slice of the DC metro area suburban frontier, is a county in transition. Home to Dulles International Airport, AOL, WorldCom, and the future Howard Hughes Medical Institute campus, Loudoun is the second fastest growing county in the nation. With its large areas of still undeveloped farmland and postcard-quaint villages, it is a contentious battleground in the culture war over development rights versus historic and environmental preservation. It has also become a battleground in the other culture war.
Since the untimely death of the Moral Majority, activists within the reconstituted theocratic right have envisioned Loudoun County as an ideal base area for the consolidation of their movement. Loudoun’s proximity to the nation’s capitol makes it a perfect location for the training of ideologically motivated legislators and lobbyists, which is precisely the function of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville. This college for evangelical Christian homeschooled students was established in 2000 by Christian Reconstructionist Michael Farris, to prepare a new generation of legislators and journalists to “lead the nation and shape the culture with timeless biblical values”.
They have been remarkably effective in penetrating the ranks of government. With a rigorous program that emphasizes rhetorical skills, these students have excelled in academic competition and placement in government internships. Out of a student body of 250, seven PHC students are currently White House interns, one is an intern for the Bush reelection campaign, and one former intern is a paid member of Karl Rove’s staff.
PHC also played a tremendous role in our local election in November. Sixty PHC students worked on the campaigns of religious right candidates, mostly in Loudoun. “These students are the reason I won the election,” said Eugene Delgaudio, one of the current county supervisors. Delgaudio, now serving his second term, is also the executive director of Public Advocate, USA, a national anti-gay advocacy organization. This weird little crew can often be seen staging stunts in front of the Capitol, and sends out mass mailings containing sentences such as the following: “You’ll see two men, hand in hand, skipping down to the adoption center to ‘pick out’ a little boy for themselves”.
Another county supervisor, Lori Waters, is the executive director of Phyllis Schlafly’s “pro-family” Eagle Forum. Other elected officials have ties to the Coalition for the Separation of School and State and Concerned Women for America. Farris serves as general counsel to CWA and founded the Home School Legal Defense Association; these two organizations strongly oppose the Federal Marriage Amendment language endorsed by Bush on the grounds that it is a “defective remedy”. It might allow just the tiniest possibility of some form of civil union to be legal, somewhere, and that’s just not good enough. Oh, by the way – VA Delegates Dick Black and Bob Marshall, who win the prize for the most offensive anti-gay and anti-woman bills introduced this legislative session, some of which were so beyond the pale they didn’t even make it out of committee – they’re from Loudoun.
In August 2003, some of us looked out upon this bounty of hatefulness and came to the conclusion that enough was enough. According to gaydemographics.org, as of the 2000 census there were 324 presumed same sex couples in Loudoun, or .78% of all couples (for comparison purposes, the figure for Fairfax County is .94%, and in Arlington, 3.13%). We suspect that, given the rapid population growth and increasing diversity in general, that percentage is higher today (and obviously doesn’t include people who are not ‘coupled’). The Loudoun population is for the most part well-educated, and the high tech business community is trying to attract hip young professionals, yet the local Republican committee is dominated by an ugly gang of extremists whose goal is to establish an authoritarian theocratic state. The last straw was this committee’s endorsement of a histrionic resolution condemning the Lawrence v. Texas ruling, and demanding a return to “the sound precedent of Bowers v. Hardwick”.
It was clearly time to stop being invisible. With invaluable help from our friends to the east (Equality Fairfax and AGLA), the Loudoun Equality Action Project was launched (the name was changed to Equality Loudoun a few months later). As a non-partisan community and advocacy organization, our mission is to increase visibility and cultivate a more welcoming climate for our communities. Our group is growing, mainly by word of mouth, and we have contacts in every part of the county, from technology professionals who work in the Dulles corridor to rural residents, and of all political affiliations. We really are everywhere. Although our numbers are still small, by acting to make our presence known as a community we have generated visible and vocal support from our allies. The local Unitarian Universalist congregations have been relentless and proactive in declaring public support for our community and our issues, and are not allowing the religious right to have the breathing room on these issues they have been accustomed to. Metro DC PFLAG is now organizing support groups in our area as well. As a result of letters and emails from our members, some of our local elected officials have now taken note that they have GLBT constituents and allies who pay attention to what they do, and vote.
A few years ago, there was an attempt by some “social conservatives” to organize a boycott of Cox Farms, a farm market in Centreville, for allegedly not being “family-friendly”. Their crime: the display of rainbow flags. Our community responded, and the assault on Cox Farms backfired. The ultimate outcome was the expansion of their business – according to one of the owners, “that event really put us on the map.” In a way, our job is very easy. All we have to do is tell the truth. While the opponents of equality have to shriek and stamp their angry feet and make up outrageous lies about us, all we have to do is be ourselves and go on living our lives as the valuable members of the community we are.
David Weintraub, Founder
Contact Equality Loudoun at firstname.lastname@example.org. On the web: www.equalityloudoun.org.