Group decries supervisor’s comments

By Crystal Owens
Loudoun Times-Mirror

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 13 2010

Advocacy group Equality Loudoun this week denounced Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio’s reaction to the addition of an equal opportunity amendment to the county’s policy handbook, extending employment rights to gay, lesbian and transgender residents.

This sort of language is easy shorthand, but misleading. Nondiscrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and gender identity protects everyone from discrimination – because everyone has a sexual orientation and a gender identity. The county can’t fire you for being straight, either.

During discussions over the addition in a Jan. 5 board meeting, Delgaudio (R-Sterling) called the plan “freaky, bizarre and fruity.”

He also used the word “it” during the meeting and in his electronic newsletter to describe transgender individuals.

“Mr. Delgaudio is stating that if a person does not conform to conventional expectations for the gender they were assigned at birth, they are not fully human,” said David Weintraub, president of Equality Loudoun in an statement e-mailed to the Loudoun Times-Mirror.

Weintraub said the supervisor’s “dehumanizing name-calling” during the Jan. 5 board meeting “was a step beyond shameful.” And the language Delgaudio used in his electronic newsletter “makes him unfit for office,” Weintraub said.

In his newsletter Delgaudio wrote: “The board votes six yes, Waters and Delgaudio ‘no,’ with York abstaining, to add ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ to the hiring of employees which means if a man dressed as a woman wants a job, you have to treat ‘it’ the same as a normal person.” [Emphasis mine.]

“He directly and intentionally says what he only implied during the meeting – that he thinks transgender people are less than human, and that non-humans are not entitled to human rights,” Weintraub said.

Delgaudio said he stands by the statement he made in the Jan. 5 meeting when he referred to the amendment as “freaky, bizarre and fruity.”

The language, he said, was aimed at what he described as a militant group of individuals.

“It’s freaky because most don’t think about homosexuals,” Delgaudio said. “It’s bizarre because they want us to think about homosexuals.”

Delgaudio called Supervisor Stevens Miller (D-Dulles) fruity for pitching the amendment during the first meeting of the year.

The supervisor said the word “it” was used as a hyperbole during the meeting as a way to hammer home his point in the short amount of time board members have to speak on issues from the dais.

“There’s a license within those three minutes,” he said.

Here we see some backpedaling.

In fact, Mr. Delgaudio did not use the word “it” in his board meeting comments. He said a lot of offensive and outrageous things, but he did not call anyone “it.” That he did in his “Dear Sterling American” email, which he then forwarded to local media (although not to his board colleagues). There is no “three minute” excuse for the very intentional statement he made in writing that he considers transgender people to be not really human. There is no other meaning that calling a person “it” can have, and he knows this very well.

Mr. Delgaudio is surprised to find that he has crossed a line of conduct that is utterly unacceptable. He is now trying to shift the focus to the merely offensive name-calling he engaged in at the meeting, by pretending that there is no difference between the two. There is.

Delgaudio said he makes no apologies for his reaction.

“I take on special interest groups, whether it’s the Republican Party, the Chamber of Commerce or Equality Loudoun,” he said. “I will not back down. I serve the residents of Sterling.”

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