Beware a Bigoted Legacy

Washington Post Loudoun Extra
February 10, 2005

At a crucial time in American development, Virginia was the birthplace of freedom. Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and others equally important, if less well-known, contributed the words and the actions that have made this commonwealth the leader in liberty around the world.

Since then, Virginia has proved less spectacular and in some cases downright embarrassing. For instance, during the 1960s, public schools were closed rather than admit African American children. In our own Loudoun County, a public swimming pool was bulldozed rather than allow entrance to the minority children who were watching nearby — eyes wide and teared with rejection and humiliation.

These were not acts of an antisocial fringe but rather the acts of elected Virginia government officials. There are more experiences just as irrational and too numerous to print in this letter. We are not proud of this heritage.

I wonder how Virginians will feel 40 years from now when they look back on the efforts of Del. Richard H. “Dick” Black (R-Loudoun) and others not just to prevent gay and lesbian marriage but to prevent homosexuals from having any kind of quality participation in the social life of the community. I think Virginians will once again decide they are not proud.

The efforts of our delegates and some of their supporters to prevent civil unions and adoption by homosexual couples make no sense to me. I have several friends who are gay. They are the kindest, most responsible people I have ever met or been associated with. If my own children had been orphaned at an early age, I would have considered it an unquestioned blessing if they had been adopted by any of the gay couples I have known.

The desire of a few county officials to allow bullies at school to continue to harass gay students without retribution is cause for intense shame if we don’t try to stop their ill-conceived and cruel crusade.

Bigotry and discrimination arise from fear of the unknown. So I ask only this for now: Before you decide to do harmful things to people you don’t even know, take time to get to know them. It’s not too late to give Virginia a prouder future.

S. Ann Robinson

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