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After fray, supervisors affirm gay rights

Supervisors on Jan. 5 voted 6-2-1 to include language in the county’s Human Resources Policy Handbook that forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The vote came down along party lines with Republican Supervisors Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) and Lori Waters (R-Broad Run) voting against the measure.
Board Chairman Scott York (I-at large) abstained.

Supervisor Stevens Miller (D-Dulles) said he decided to propose the initiative after he learned while campaigning last year for a seat in the state House of Delegates that Governor-elect Bob McDonnell planned to abandon the previous administration’s order banning sexual orientation discrimination in state government hiring practices.

“I think people need to be aware that they don’t have the benefit of that policy at the top level of government,” Miller said. “People need to know that if they can’t get help at the highest level, they can get help from their local government.”

Miller called the initiative “the right thing to do.”

“It’s a shame that anyone would put energy into fighting this,” he said.

At least four residents spoke Jan. 4 in favor of the initiative at a county public input session.

The proposal drew the ire of Delgaudio and Waters on several issues, including a lack of public input, unspecific policy language and fear of legal implications.
Delgaudio accused Miller of attempting to “sneak” a liberal policy by the public.

“This is freaky, this is bizarre and this is fruity,” Delgaudio said.

Waters said she feared the policy change would lead to staff delving too deeply into employees’ personal lives.

Miller’s proposal, she said, didn’t clearly define the term gender identity.

“Does that mean that men who are dressing as women will starting going into women’s restrooms? It might,” she said. “I don’t know.”

Waters recommended the board send the proposal to the state attorney general for an opinion before the board voted to include it in the county’s Human Resources Handbook Policy.

“We don’t know what the legal implications are, if any, in regard to our current policy,” she said.

Supervisors spent almost an hour debating the issue before casting votes.

The decision, according to Supervisor Andrea McGimsey (D-Potomac), should have been a no-brainer.

“Some people are arguing that perhaps we should be discriminating against people, which I find remarkable,” McGimsey said.

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