A new Loudoun County Republican Committee?

Russell Muños, Vice President of Equality Loudoun and member of the Log Cabin Republicans of Virginia, and Jonathan Weintraub, Equality Loudoun co-founder and board member, attended the recent Loudoun County Republican Committee (LCRC) ice cream social at the Lansdowne Potomac club. (In the interest of full disclosure, Jonathan is also a member of the Loudoun County Democratic Committee.)

It was a refreshingly pleasant event. Our visit followed a recent post about the efforts of the LCRC to change its image. The prominence in the committee of anti-gay ideologues and their agendas was part of what led to the founding of Equality Loudoun back in 2003, and as we said in the previous post, “we would be delighted by evidence that this has changed, and that our Republican members can fully participate in their chosen political party at the local level.”

The hosts for this event were Roger Zurn (Loudoun’s Treasurer) and Robert Wertz (Loudoun’s Commissioner of the Revenue). I spoke with both of them. To my knowledge, they are members of the moderate wing of the LCRC. When we arrived, we also met Glen Caroline, the new chairman of the committee. He was very friendly and welcoming, as were most of the people I spoke with. Oddly, he didn’t seem very aware that the committee has had a problem with the GLBT community.

There were people associated with the openly anti-gay, “social conservative” wing of the committee in attendance as well. Failed State Senate candidate Patricia Phillips, formerly the state director of Concerned Women for America, who was instrumental in creating the “controversy” over the student play Offsides, and actively gay-baited her primary opponent was there, as was Mark Sell, a close associate of professional gay-basher Eugene Delgaudio.

It must make these types uncomfortable to see people greet me and ask how David is, when they believe that our marriage is “an abomination.” Sell managed to tell me that a gay person would be welcome to “work for Republican candidates,” and that the committee doesn’t care about anyone’s personal life. I take this to mean that advocacy within the committee for the individual liberties of GLBT persons – or even being out – would be an unwelcome introduction of one’s “personal life.” The anti-gay activist wing fails to see the irony of this position. We’ll just leave it at that.

Others active in the committee were more attuned. In particular, LCRC Secretary Mary Gail Swenson pulled Russ and me aside and tried to recruit us both. She warned that although some members of the LCRC would object to a membership application from an openly gay citizen, she assured us that she would advocate for the applicant and would not tolerate discrimination. Her stand may give pause to the more rabid elements, who have been deposed from leadership positions, but are still present and vocal in their attacks on our community.

Russ had a casual conversation with a woman who he believes heckled Equality Loudoun at the 2007 Leesburg 4th of July parade. She wanted his input on how to bring young voters into the LCRC. He suggested that we “must learn to speak their language,” to which she replied “you mean we have to support Ludacris?” No, he tried to explain, it’s just that the things that matter to 20 year olds are different from the things that matter to older people. She seemed not to have any idea what this could mean, giving him a funny blank stare.

As I was leaving, I met Matthew, a representative from the Republican Party of Virginia. I explained that I was there representing Equality Loudoun, and that the LCRC has been hostile to the GLBT community in the past, severely limiting participation. I related to him the story of the 2003 LCRC meeting to which School Board candidates were invited to seek endorsement, and how that meeting was derailed by Patrick Henry College student Eve Marie Barner’s ridiculous resolution demanding the reversal of the Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v Texas. Matthew seemed interested to learn about these things, and said that he’d add the inclusiveness problem to the list of items he would discuss with Glen Caroline.

I was somewhat heartened. It appears that the mainstream is making an effort to take back the LCRC (which I have to admit, as a Democrat, is a bad development.) As a member of the GLBT community, it’s a great development. Life’s not always black and white. I hope that Glen’s leadership can put an end to the irrational anti-gay bias that has tarnished the LCRC, and the committee can concentrate on the issues that matter to everyone regardless of who they love and what their family looks like. When using our community as a wedge issue no longer works at the local level, it will no longer work at the national platform level either, and the direction taken by this local committee depends on who shows up and makes their voices heard. Good luck to the LCRC!

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11 Responses to A new Loudoun County Republican Committee?

  1. Not Jeff W. says:

    Well it’s great to know the LCRC is doing some small outreach to the GLBT community that is a hell of a lot more than they are doing to the minority community.

    I happen to know that the LCRC turned down a request from Phyllis Randall to come speak about Diversity Loudoun at a LCRC meeting. Diversity Loudoun is a new organization founded by Randall and other with the goal of getting all diverse groups more involved in Loudoun. Phyllis said she became disheartened when she went to a Freshman orientation night for her son and noticed only about five minority parents in the whole auditorium. That experience combined with low minority voter turnout, low HOA involvement, low PTA PTO involvement, (you get the picture) spurred Randall and others to found this Organization. It’s new and they are just getting off the ground but one thing they wanted to focus on was community and organizational outreach.

    Ms. Randall first contacted Glen Caroline just a few days after he was elected chair of the LCRC to tell him about Diversity Loudoun. He asked her to wait until he got his committee together before she came to speak. That sounded reasonable, so she waited two months and called him again. He referred her Patricia Phillips (I guess Phillips is over the committee on guest speakers) Phillips suggested Randall wait until after the summer because more members would be present. Again, sounds reasonable right. This is where it get’s interesting.

    Two weeks ago Phillips contacts Randall to tell her the speakers committee met and decided to resend the offer. Many reasons (all asinine) were given. But the most ridiculous was that it was too close to the November Election. After all these months they put Randall and Diversity Loudoun off and now it’s too close to the Election. What crap. But that’s not, all the lunacy continues. Another reason given was even knowing Diversity Loudoun is a non-partisan organization, Randall is a known LCDC member and they don’t want her at a LCRC meeting; so Phyllis being Phyllis offers to send someone else. Someone who is not political or even someone who is a Republican to speak to the LCRC but no go.

    Finally the reason given was that they want to have speakers that advance pure Conservative Republican issues and Diversity Loudoun does not clear their bar. The main focus of Diversity Loudoun is encouraging minorities to become involved, to take a pro-active stance in their community, to not rely on others for what they want or need, and mostly (and these are my words not theirs) to stop whining about “the man”. If that is not Republican I don’t know what is.
    And then Republicans wonder why they have such low involvement and membership among minority groups.

    Yep the LCRC is really changing, Baaahaaa!

  2. Jonathan says:

    Interesting Not Jeff W. Thanks. I will admit that there was not much diversity at the ice cream social.

  3. David says:

    Yes, this is very interesting. I should note that we are the ones doing the outreach; it’s not as if someone from the LCRC invited Equality Loudoun to send representatives to their event.

    This is a sad indication of who is still running the show, in spite of some (I think) sincere individuals who would like to see more inclusiveness. Thank you for letting us know about this.

  4. Sanity says:

    Patricia Phillips is, of course, a known “small-tenter”. Jonathan, maybe you don’t have to worry about the LCDC after all!

  5. David says:

    Patricia Phillips, like Eugene, doesn’t really belong in the GOP. Her views are more in alignment with the so-called “Constitution Party” (they do have a special talent for misnaming things..) as articulated in today’s Purcellville Gazette letter to the editor. We’ll get that up soon for your Friday afternoon enjoyment 🙂

  6. Sanity says:

    You could be right. Hard to imagine how horrible the world would be if they ran it. If all the folks like her went to the “Constitution party, the Republicans might not be so bad.

    I have to laugh, though, considering how firm the Founders were about a separation of church and state. Seems like the “Constitution Party” just glosses over that point?

  7. gstone says:

    Please get your facts straight.

    Both Chairman Caroline and Patricia Phillips are dedicated to community outreach. Your assertions to the contrary are simply not true.
    The guest speaker at the August 26th LCRC meeting was Mr. Don Scoggins. Don is President of Republicans for Black Empowerment and founder of The Frederick Douglass GOP Forum. Don’s message of encouraging more minority participation was very well received by all in attendance. I for one thought Don’s message of Black empowerment via active participation in the GOP was spot on. Don’s message resulted in a much deserved standing ovation.

    The LCRC under Chairman Caroline’s leadership will continue to reach out to all who share the values and principles of the Republican Party.

    Let’s remember the GOP is the party of both Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln, our dedication to civil rights and equality reaches deep into our nations history. The GOP in the form of the LCRC takes a back seat to no one on this important issue.

    Greg Stone
    LCRC, Potomac District Chairman

  8. David says:

    Give me a break. Patricia Phillips’ “outreach” to the gay community consists of congratulating herself in Concerned Women for America publications for smiling and speaking kindly to us while she fervently prays that we will learn to hate ourselves and “change.” She says it makes her feel very Christian.

    I’m not saying that you’re lying, Greg, but you only seem to see things from your own limited perspective. If the GOP is so dedicated to civil rights and equality, then we will see a concerted effort to remove the anti-civil rights and anti-equality planks from the party platform. We will see the supporters of those planks told in no uncertain terms that the United States of America is not a theocracy, and that the basic rights of a minority are not subject to disposal through mob rule.

    We’ll be watching closely.

  9. Not Jeff W. says:

    “Don’s message of encouraging more minority participation was very well received by all in attendance”.

    Hay Stone as you looked around the room that night how many people “in attendance” had brown, or black skin? How many were gay? How many were anything but what the LCRC always looks like.

    All of you nodding your heads up and down to your guest speaker means nothing unless you actually do something pro-active so that the only minority faces in the room are not guests, but active, welcome members of your committee.

    When the LCRC looks like the rest of Loudoun County then talk to us, otherwise you just blowing hot ass air!

    And by the way the GOP Convention had under 2% minority delegates in attendance. Yep that’s the party of the people.

  10. Patti says:

    How can I learn more about this new organization “Diversity Loudoun?”

  11. David says:

    Patti, I’m not sure they’re still active – they don’t seem to have any web presence. Maybe Phyllis Randall would know. I’ll email you off line. One thing’s for sure – the situation with the LCRC has only deteriorated further in the intervening two years. What a mess.