UPDATED: There are only a few days left in the month, but the Prince William Board of Supervisors on Tuesday proclaimed June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and More Pride Month at a meeting that saw emotional testimony on both sides of the issue.
County proclamations naming certain months for specific causes rarely are controversial, but this one certainly was. It passed on a 5-3 vote with the board’s two Democrats being joined by three Republicans in approving the designation.
“Personally, I believe Prince William County is a forward-thinking, compassionate, thoughtful community and is ready to respect all of our residents, including those whose sexual orientation and gender identity fall within the LGBTQ community,” said Supervisor Frank Principi, D-Woodbridge, who brought the measure forward Tuesday.
He voted for it along with board Vice Chairman Marty Nohe, R-Coles, and Supervisors John Jenkins, D-Neabsco, Maureen Caddigan, R-Potomac, and Pete Candland, R-Gainesville.
The proclamation does not change policy or obligate government funding, Candland said, but it does show compassion and respect for everyone in the community.
“It shows that while we might not agree with each other, we can declare that we can appreciate each other and welcome everyone into our community,” he said.
Supervisor Ruth Anderson, R-Occoquan, however, said the proclamation goes against the “core beliefs” of many people.
“I don’t feel that it’s inclusive. I find it divisive,” Anderson said. “I don’t find it unifying. I find it separating and alienating.”
She voted against the proclamation along with Board Chairman Corey Stewart, R-At Large, and Supervisor Jeanine Lawson, R-Brentsville.
Stewart voted against the move without making any comment.
But his vote was perhaps not surprising, as one of the supporters of his current bid for U.S. Senate is former Loudoun County Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio, who runs the anti-homosexual group Public Advocate of the United States. Stewart faces incumbent U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, in November.
Tuesday’s vote came after 21 speakers testified in favor of the measure and nine spoke against it.
The outcome delighted Evelyn BruMar, who spearheaded the effort to have the supervisors pass a proclamation.
“I wasn’t really expecting it to pass,” she said. “I thought it was going to be split.”
The vote also was exciting for Amy Cannon, who said she’s the mother of a “queer child.”
“There’s so far that we still have to go, but it’s a symbolic embrace of the LGBTQ community,” she said.
That’s what George Dodge, who lives in the Coles District, was afraid of. Like Anderson, he said highlighting one group of people is not being inclusive, it’s divisive.
“We’re not doing it for any other group,” he said.
The supervisors also voted unanimously Tuesday to reaffirm a 1996 resolution that declared Prince William as a “hate-free and bigot-free zone.”
The measure said that the county is a place that “fosters unity” among all residents regardless of race, religion, ethnic background, sexual orientation or gender identity.
Reach Jonathan Hunley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the first time in Prince William County history, the board of supervisors voted this afternoon to declare June "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and More Pride Month."
The vote was 5 to 3 with Corey Stewart, board chairman and the GOP nominee for Senate, voting against the measure. He was joined by fellow Republican Supervisors Ruth Anderson, of the Occoquan District, and Jeanine Lawson, of the Brentsville District, both of whom cast dissenting votes.
The five supervisors voting in favor of the measure included the board's two Democrats -- Supervisors Frank Principi, Woodbridge, and John Jenkins, Neabsco-- as well as Republican Supervisors Maureen Caddigan, Potomac, Pete Candland, Gainesville, and Marty Nohe, Coles.
The measure was sponsored by Principi. Full story coming.