Tempest in a teabag

I think we’ve been here before.

Angry anti-gay nutbag: This is very controversial!
Me: Actually, it’s not. In fact, 87% of Virginians support this policy.
AAN: Yes it is! It’s extremely controversial!
Me: No it’s not.
AAN: Yes it is! It is!
Me: It’s…just not.
AAN: See?! See?!? I told you it’s controversial!

This is the circular argument formula used by anti-gay ideologues who have no legitimate argument against something they… just don’t happen to like. And so it is with the rather ordinary idea that employment by the County of Loudoun should be free of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity – and that our written policy statement should say so. Thanks to Stevens Miller and a majority on our Board of Supervisors, that will now be the case.

As I pointed out yesterday, the need to correct the deficiency in Loudoun’s written nondiscrimination policy was so self-evident that it should have been passed by acclamation via the consent agenda. It is beyond shameful that anyone would try to oppose this simple and obvious action. As it happens, though, there are a couple of grandstanders on our board. They saw an opportunity to make an otherwise completely non-controversial administrative change into a noisy partisan issue, and they took it. In the process, while they may have scored points with their cultural base, they managed to come across to everyone else as ugly, foolish and desperate. They were successful at two things: calling attention to a very mainstream issue on which 87% of Virginians (and 80% of Republicans) agree, and firmly lodging the Republican brand on the wrong side. For the moderate Republicans in our community who are hoping to rescue the party from those “culture warriors” currently dragging it further into the muck of Christianism*, this is more evidence that things will likely get worse before they get better.

Now, why do I say that Supervisor Miller’s motion was completely non-controversial? Because of the opposition’s own stated arguments. Lori Waters repeatedly asked for evidence that the change was “needed.” Is there currently discrimination against people on the basis of these characteristics? was a question asked by her, and the answer from staff that there is not was then used by her to argue in opposition to the motion. Scott York was quoted as saying “If by practice we don’t do that, then it was not needed and it was a waste of 20 minutes.”

That the issue itself is non-controversial is also the primary argument being repeated in Loudoun’s right wing echo chamber. Here, we see people repeatedly claiming that the motion was addressing a “non-existent problem,” and “discrimination that has no base in fact,” that board time shouldn’t have been spent debating it, and even that there are only 10 gay people in Loudoun County. Here, the writer claims that the motion was not necessary – I swear I’m not making this up – “given the Commonwealth protection already in place.” That “protection” turns out to be Executive Order 1, the order that the incoming governor has promised not to reissue. (Joe is usually sharper than this, I hope he’s ok.) Further down the comments, we see people again complaining that board time was spent discussing this, claiming there’s no evidence of discrimination, that it was only introduced to make “political points,” etc.

A couple of interesting things to point out here. The almost adamant insistence that there is no such discrimination has an unstated subtext: Such discrimination would be wrong. None of these commentators, as much as they will claim to be part of the far right Delgaudio camp, wants to make the argument that it should be legal to engage in employment discrimination against GLBT people, that this is happening now and ought to continue to happen. There is no mention at all in this discourse of Delgaudio’s bigoted tirade; it’s as if it didn’t happen. These partisans are not only choosing not to defend his embarrassing words, they are running away as fast as they can from the only person who openly claimed that such discrimination is “moral” and ought to continue.

I also think it’s possible that there are people on the County staff and others who genuinely believe this amendment wasn’t “needed,” for this reason: From their perspective, the county doesn’t discriminate, and they’re proud of that. As far as they’re concerned, employment decisions are made strictly on merit, and there is already a culture in which GLBT people feel respected and secure in their jobs.

It should be obvious by now that if everyone (with the exception of the Sterling Supervisor) agrees that the county already has a de facto policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity; that this policy is a good thing; and that adding inclusive language to the handbook is only codifying the practices that already exist, then the motion to do so is completely non-controversial.

With no other defensible response available to them, the partisan right is standing reality on its head and making the astonishing claim that it was the maker of this absolutely mainstream, unremarkable motion who is “grandstanding” and “being political,” rather than the two supervisors who actually grandstanded about it for nearly an hour instead of voting for it.

It really appears, between the board comments and the blog comments, that the opposition is merely to Supervisor Miller. The opponents have completely undermined their credibility by making two contradictory claims. The amendment can arguably be either “not necessary” (because there is no problem with anti-gay, anti-trans discrimination), or “very controversial” (because there is such a discrimination problem) – but not both. Which is it?

As to the claim that the action was not needed, and to those with questions about why it was needed: You are fundamentally asking the wrong question. The important question is: Why would anyone oppose this? It is incumbent upon them to explain why it should be illegal to fire someone because of their religion or age or national origin or political affiliation, but legal to fire them because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. They have failed to do that, instead hiding behind easily dismantled excuses. This is very simple: Either we believe that people should be hired, fired and promoted based solely on merit or we do not.

* Christianism, not to be confused with the religion of Christianity, is an ideology held by those who believe they have a mandate to seize control (“dominion”) of civil government and conform public policy to what they claim are “Christian” doctrines. Those doctrines are often in 100% opposition to the actual Christian gospels and faith tradition.

This entry was posted in Commentary, News and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *