That is what the Supervisor from Sterling had to say this morning about Stevens Miller’s motion amending Loudoun County’s Equal Employment Opportunity Statement to include “sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Let’s just savor that for a moment: We have a supervisor who thinks it’s “freaky, bizarre and fruity” to declare that county employment decisions will be made on merit alone, not on the basis of unrelated characteristics.*
I’m afraid that Mr. “Sterling American,” as he likes to refer to himself, was in the distinct minority on this one. The language will be amended, by a vote of 6-2-1, with Delgaudio and Waters opposed and York abstaining.
Bringing you not-quite-live blogging, here are some more highlights and lowlights:
First of all, Stevens Miller deserves tremendous credit for initiating this. It is an embarrassment that the county in which AOL and other fully inclusive 21st century corporate employers are headquartered has a deficient nondiscrimination policy. As Mr. Miller simply stated, “this is the right thing to do, and it’s shameful that anyone would put energy into opposing it.”
But, certain people put a lot of energy (if not effectiveness) into opposing it. As I predicted, Delgaudio and Waters tried using the addition of “gender identity” as a wedge, with Delgaudio disgorging some nonsense about “men in dresses” in ladies’ bathrooms. Waters generally would allow him to use the foolish and dehumanizing language, then chime in with sober “questions” about the definition of gender identity, and unknown “legal consequences.” (For the record – and read into the record – they were provided with the standard definition of gender identity from the federal ENDA.)
Delgaudio tried a substitute motion directing staff to prepare this “very controversial issue” for public hearing. He seems to have the notion that this has something to do with the people who wanted to have a Christmas tree or a menorah on the courthouse lawn, several times shouting things about “hundreds of moral thinking people” speaking to the board on that topic last month. The substitute motion failed.
Waters attempted to argue that the board doesn’t have the authority to make such a change, that the change would invite lawsuits, that there could be unknown “consequences” (“Does this language mean that men dressed as women [sic] could go in the ladies’ room? It could! It could!”), that there is no problem with discrimination anyway, that this was only being brought up for partisan political reasons, and most amusingly – after commenting at length about each of the above – that the board shouldn’t be spending so much time on this at the expense of “important issues.” As an editorial aside, I have to agree. This is such a no-brainer that it should have been on the consent agenda and passed by acclamation. That there was any meeting time at all spent on this agenda item was entirely due to the prejudice-driven opposition of these two board members, and it is indeed “shameful.”
To the great credit of the other board members, no one fell for any of this. In particular, Andrea McGimsey cut to the real issue in response to the spurious arguments raised by Delgaudio/Waters by pointing out that what they were actually doing was arguing for the right to discriminate, which is, as she put it, “remarkable.” With regard to Waters’ substitute motion, to send a letter to the new attorney general asking about the board’s authority in this matter, McGimsey suggested that what the letter should really ask is “Do we have the right to discriminate on the basis of irrelevant characteristics against people who want to work for the county?” (Waters’ substitute motion also failed.)
In the end, what we have is a fully inclusive employment nondiscrimination policy, and a video archive showing both the best and worst of what our county Board of Supervisors is made of. Both of these things are valuable. We’ll edit this post to include a link to the meeting video when available. If you’d like to thank the supervisors, or in some cases ask them why they think it should be legally permissible to base employment decisions on anything other than merit, contact information is below.
email@example.com | Scott K. York, Chairman (At Large)
firstname.lastname@example.org | Susan Klimek Buckley, Sugarland Run District, Vice-Chairman
email@example.com | Jim Burton, Blue Ridge District
firstname.lastname@example.org | Lori Waters, Broad Run District
email@example.com | Sally R. Kurtz, Catoctin District
firstname.lastname@example.org | Stevens Miller, Dulles District
email@example.com | Kelly Burk, Leesburg District
firstname.lastname@example.org | Andrea McGimsey, Potomac District
email@example.com | Eugene Delgaudio, Sterling District
* The amended language will read: “…non-merit factors such as race, color, religion, sex, national origin, political affiliation, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and when such factors are not related directly to bona fide position qualifications…”