Charlotte McConnell | Equality Loudoun

Charlotte McConnell speaks during a protest against Councilman Tom Dunn in front of town hall. 

A boisterous crowd packed Leesburg Town Council chambers on Tuesday night to call for the resignation of Councilman Tom Dunn following a protest by the LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Loudoun on town government grounds.

Dunn, who has served on council since 2008, recently signed sentiments rather than his signature on three town proclamations for Pride Month, Gun Violence Awareness Month and Juneteenth. Town staff reprinted the Juneteenth and Pride Month proclamations without Dunn’s signature after the sentiments were discovered. Councilman Josh Thiel then re-signed the Pride Month proclamation at the absent Dunn’s request: “Everyone is equal. Identities don’t help.”

Dunn eventually re-signed the proclamations with his signature.

Council members can ask to have their names removed from proclamations with which they disagree.

During Monday night’s work session, Councilman Ron Campbell tried to suspend rules to discuss the town’s ethics policy and made a motion to censure Dunn during a future meeting, but both failed.

Before council met Tuesday, a protest of several dozen individuals formed on the town green to listen to statements and chant “Done with Dunn.”

“On public town documents, there is no place for your personal opinion,” said Equality Loudoun Steering Committee Member Charlotte McConnell. “You had an opportunity to do something respectful that night, and you failed.”

Mayor Kelly Burk and Vice Mayor Fernando “Marty” Martinez also spoke.

“I stand with you,” Burk said. “It was not appropriate, it was unkind, it was mean and it was very selfish of [Dunn].”

Burk added that council can’t make Dunn resign and must follow process. At the end of her speech, Burk told protesters they could make Dunn “uncomfortable” by continuing to speak out.

Loudoun Supervisor Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg) attended the protest, as did Councilmen Ron Campbell and Neil Steinberg.

“When you think of what the LGBTQ community has gone through, you need to speak out,” Umstattd told the Times-Mirror.

The protest ended minutes before council began, and many came upstairs to speak. Some brought LGBTQ Pride flags and posters calling for Dunn and Thiel’s resignations; one woman wrote the word “Resign” on her hand.

“I stand in solidarity with Equality Loudoun, the NAACP and Moms Demand Action,” said Equality Loudoun Steering Committee Member Amber Beichler, a lesbian and transgender woman. She said that she struggled with feeling “broken” before she came out. “You don’t have the right to say identities don’t matter. They matter to me.”

NAACP President Michelle Thomas confronted Burk for not voting to censure Dunn—the Monday vote failed 4-3 with Campbell, Steinberg and Martinez in support. Campbell, Steinberg and Martinez have also publicly called for Dunn's resignation.

“I would like to say I’m disappointed, but I think you’ve normalized disappointment in Leesburg,” Thomas told Dunn. “What you did ... not only dishonored the communities, it dishonored the entire citizenry of Leesburg.”

A minority of speakers came out in support of Dunn.

“Tom Dunn has a right to his opinion as the rest of you do,” said Leesburg resident Sandy Kane. “For years he has been voted into that position on town council ... by community members. You have no right to take that seat away from him.”

Both Thiel and Dunn have announced they will not resign. However, they have backed down from the tenor, if not the content, of their words.

On June 18, Campbell released to his Facebook page an email Thiel sent council.

“My inclination to do a favor for [Dunn] in this matter was a mistake and [I] regret fulfilling his request,” Thiel wrote. “My decision to serve as Councilman Dunn's scribe was wrong and it allowed his personal statement to be inscribed on the official Pride Proclamation. I look forward to the discussion to depolarize future proclamations.”

Dunn spoke during council comments at the end of Tuesday’s meeting, clarifying his stances on all three of his proclamation statements. He said that he would have supported two separate proclamations for Juneteenth and the lynching of Leesburg teen Orion Anderson, just not together. He also said that as the father of a son with special needs, he empathizes with what it means to be identified and mocked as different. Finally, he said that because he believes violence comes from individuals rather than particular weapons, he opposes all forms of violence.

“My comments were more geared toward council,” Dunn said. “For those people who found harm in the statements. I made, I truly regret that. That was not my intent. I am grateful that people, supporters or detractors of me, came out and spoke ... Now people need to work towards unity and not division.”

Councilwoman Suzanne Fox made a successful motion Monday night to clarify the town’s ethics policy at a future meeting. This discussion will come in addition to an agenda item about how council will handle future proclamations, scheduled for July.

_________

Correction: This story has been updated to correct what Councilman Josh Thiel wrote in Councilman Tom Dunn's place on the Pride Month proclamation. He wrote, "Everyone is equal. Identifies don't help."

(59) comments

amerigirl

Goodol, what makes you say that Dunn’s comments were in line with what the documents said? The calls of racism against Dunn didn’t start with just this childish and attention getting behavior. It is an on going problem with him. He is not blatant; he just wants attention. Those proclamations were to give attention to others but it always has to be about him. They need a leader who is for the people, his constituents, not himself. That is why Vice Mayor Fernando “Marty” Martinez and councilman Neil Steinberg sent an email stating “His continued rude and disruptive behavior towards his colleagues and our communities makes Mr. Dunn an ineffective council member who detracts from our Council doing business in an effective and timely manner,”

amerigirl

Jeanie, I’m not sure what the problem is. Do you feel that I shouldn’t voice my opinion or I shouldn’t use the term "The way I look at it"? Do you think that people shouldn’t be held liable for their actions? How is, "liability issues" clever choice of words? I believe it is a pretty common term. By the way, in what or whom I find my identity is my business, and only my business. Why are you interested in that anyway, it has nothing to do with the article? I mentioned dark skinned people because the article said Dunn’s opinion on Juneteenth and the lynching of Leesburg teen Orion Anderson.and comments from the NAACP. They are not in the picture but definitely in the article, perhaps you didn’t read the whole thing. Maybe you were too busy thinking up ways to attack the posters here to read it. Can you keep your opinions about the articles and not the people responding to them? Yes, it would be nice if people could disagree on issues without being labeled as a "bigot", The only people I saw called bigots was from swamp who said that the “NAACP and the KHFRTQZ” were teeming with them. Do you honestly think that members of the LGBTQ community or blacks are treated as well as white Americans?

GoodOlLoudoun

AMgl what were Dunn's past racist comments or actions? Where is the current racism? Dunn said lynchings are not a celebration; anyone who says lynching should be celebrated is sick in the head. Two hyper-liberals like Stienburg and Martinez accept no criticism of their own actions. Intolerance is the new norm.

amerigirl

hyper-liberals? Really? No one said that lynchings were a celebration except Dunn, that makes him the one sick in the head. It was a memorial proclamation to the NAACP and descendants of Orion Anderson, a 14-year-old lynching victim who was hung in Leesburg in 1889.

CarolS20001

How 'bout Gov. Ralph? Howz he feel about this?

amerigirl

Virginia SGP, where did you get the info on this survey? Would love to see it.

Lawman

Every wonder why the Klan sends out recruitment information in Loudoun County? Just read these posts!!

amerigirl

Davis, the offense is that is was offensive to the LGBTQ community. Think about this, what if they created a proclamation making a certain day Donald J. Trump day and if someone that disagreed with it wrote on the top “because he broke the record for presidential lies” and signed it instead of just not signing at all, wouldn’t you be irked?

DavisB

AG - you misread my comment - I was challenging the statement from GOL that there was no offensive behavior

amerigirl

ops, sorry! Thanks for clarifying for me.

GoodOlLoudoun

the victimization of America. AG when you change your attitude from victim to victor and you will find true joy. You might find real honesty that does not need to a craft a narrative. Everyone is equal, Identities dont help. written at bottom of the document is not offensive. You say this to 100 people and 95% will not be offended. You keep saying things like writing at the top (making it the title) of a document calling someone a liar is the same as what actually happen, but is not true. Calling someone, even Trump, a liar you might have 50% offended or disagree.

amerigirl

It doesn't matter if he wrote on the top or bottom, it was uncalled for. Why did he need to write anything on a document that was to honor people at all, he didn't have to write anything or even sign it.He choose to. Gangs are the outcome of many of those really suppressed people who change their attitudes from victim to victor. If everyone is equal then who get more attention from the cops? And even trump supporters know he is a liar, they have done a poll and "A majority of Republicans (68.7%) surveyed in Trump Country (Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania) think the president exaggerates or intentionally lies — but they don't care.

Jeanne T

Would there be calls for Dunn to resign had he not signed the "proclamation" at all?

amerigirl

Not unless he made his opinion known in another way. What he did was to make his opinion a part of legal, public record without the individuals who disagreed with him having the opportunity to state and defend their opinion. The way I look at it is would you sign a contract at the top saying you disagree with the price of something when all other parties are in agreement? If you don't agree why would you put your name on the contract at all and risk liability issues?

Jeanne T

What he did does not warrant demands for his resignation. "The way I look at it" - Yes, that is your opinion. "If you don't agree why would you put your name on the contract at all and risk liability issues?" Ah, "liability issues". What a clever choice of words! By the way, amerigirl, in what or whom do you find your identity?

GoodOlLoudoun

A proclamation is not a "legal" document. It is an announcement belonging to Council to do with as they wish. And the public record has any number of documents in it based on what is presented at meeting. From all these stories on the topic it sounds like Dunn put comments as his signature and nowhere else so not to mark up the document. All of Council including Dunn re-signed the documents within a couple days so all groups had new documents. So where is the offense? The comments were inline with what the documents said. It seems all of Council has shared their regrets to anyone who still found offense. So now the only very weak case to make, outside of unfounded calls of racism, is the breaking of Council rules which no one has read. Mayor should be commended for sticking up for the rules while still not agreeing with Dunn.

DavisB

GOL- where what the offense? Dunn had a tantrum and wrote stupid things on the proclamations - please pay attention

Jeanne T

"Are those dark skinned people not black or people of a different sexual orientation than yours not who they say they are?" I don't see any "dark skinned" people in the photo. Do you? Nor is there any reference to skin color in "LGBTQ".

LetFreedomRing

I think Dunn acted unprofessional but he is entitled to his opinion and is protected by the 1st Amendment... just like our Governor Northam who likes to dress up in black face or wear a KKK hood. If Northam can keep his job, then the NAACP and LGBTQ need to STFU.

amerigirl

The big difference is that it was not proven that Northam did that and it is proven that Dunn did.

NvolvedParent

And voicing your opinion still isn't illegal under the 1st amendment and there were no procedural rules broke, so why all the crying and angst about it?

swampfiller

That's something difficult to prove or disprove. For example my hero CLINTON, the only reason he was found guilty was nobody had the dress cleaned.

scottva

What planet are you from? Northam admitted it then retracted his admission and no surprise, his medical school was unable to confirm/deny. Investigators need to dig into Northam like was done to Kavanaugh

amerigirl

Nvolved, I don't think they care if he voices his opinion but it was that he did it by defacing a legal document that was a proclamation and will remain part of the city’s records. The intent of the city was to recognize and celebrate those things. If he wanted to express his opinion why didn't he do it by not signing it, writing an op ed, putting an ad in the paper, or calling a press conference? He did not have to sign it at all. Think of it this way, how would you feel if an important document like the Emaciation Proclamation had a note at the top that said that blacks are as free as they deserve to be?

NvolvedParent

The Emaciation Proclamation is a US Federal document with strictly enforced rules on how it is approved and signed. A proclamation is issued by the Town council as a formal good-job, way to go, and has absolutely no legal importance or procedural rules on signing. Please try and get your scope of importance in line with legal reality.

amerigirl

Nvolved, you're partly right, it is not legally binding unless there is an executive order with it. However it is still a matter of public record.

scottva

"had a note at the top that said that blacks are as free as they deserve to be?" Isn't this statement you made Amerigirl applicable to everyone? We all deserve our freedom until we are undeserving. Undeserving is reserved for criminals, especially violent criminals and more often than not, a violent criminal makes a choice.

Jeanne T

Why does there have to be such a "proclamation" document in the first place? This is more than a proclamation, and signing it is making a confession to something. It is a confession statement from Loudoun Equality. Can one be forced to sign a confession to something they do not believe without consequences?

DavisB

There doesn't "have to be such a proclamation document: - there gets to be one

Jeanne T

Why? And what if one refuses to endorse it?

DavisB

they are free to not sign any proclamation - writing snarky comments is juvenile and disrespectful - simply do nothing instead of pulling a Dunn and being jerk

Jeanne T

Does there "get to be" an objection to it as well?

DavisB

you have posted plenty of objections here, JT - what is your real question?

Jeanne T

"you have posted plenty of objections here" Actually, I haven't.

amerigirl

From what I understand a "proclamation" is just a dedication of a day, whether it is just 1 day or annually. It shouldn't be anything like a confession only an acknowledgement. They only need 1 signature in a town, usually the mayor, but others on the council can sign also if in agreement.

DavisB

JT - 7 posts so far on this article and countless in other posts, I would consider that ample opportunity to voice your concerns

Count Quackula

So the naacp and lgqbt’s are against him. That’s all I need to know, he’s got my vote.

amerigirl

Really? All he was doing was grandstanding, he was not forced to sign it and if he disagreed with it he should have just withheld his signature. So why do you hate minorities?

scottva

Typical Liberal comment. One of the most basic elements of the US Constitution is that all we are all equal. All of the many "diversity" groups claim that they wanted to be treated like everyone else (everyone else means white people), ok great. If they want to be treated just everyone else in the US, then why do they all demand special privileges, diversity police and a platform telling the world that we're here, look at us and treat us special? Imagine if a white guy tried to demand a platform like all of these "diversity" groups! Take a look at how whites are public enemy number one. We can't fart without being labeled a racist. If we're all racists then none of us are racists.

Virginia SGP

scottva, the unequivocal evidence is that whites are the least racists of all groups. How do I know? Surveys have been conducted about who an employee would want to have as a boss. Each demographic group prefers to have a boss of their own race. For example, a black employee prefers a black boss, a Hispanic employee prefers a Hispanic boss, etc. But when that can't happen, from which racial group would that employee next prefer for his boss? In every single case, the next preferred race of the boss was white. For all the complaints about "racism", whites are the least racist of any demographic. Now, that doesn't mean any individual (be they white, black, Hispanic, etc.) is or is not more or less racist than the average. But on the whole, let's quit this nonsense about whites being a roadblock for anyone in 2019.

amerigirl

Scott, it is a basic element that all men are created equal, and yet they are still not all treated equal. That can be verified by the comments on this page. What special privileges are they asking for? To be able to use the locker room of their sexual identity? Which locker room did you use? I bet it was the one that identified with your sexual identity. You make so many comments about wanting special treatment but offer nothing as examples. I can’t imagine a white guy demanding a platform because a white guy would be treated as a white guy and equal to other white guys, white is the majority. Most of the white guys I know are not racist and treat all people the same. They don’t have problems with other people because of their race, or sexual orientation. When they do have a problem, it is because of personality disputes, like everyone has. Your comment is a typical republican response, I’m a racist because everybody is actually a racist. Wrong.

DavisB

Thanks to VA SGP - we can all rest easily now with his proclamation that white privilege and racism does not exist and only non-whites are racist - #youcantbeserious

romano

NAACP's disgraceful pass given to Northam renders this call for resignation meaningless. And don't tell me they still call for Northam's ouster...they have done NOTHING to put pressure on our KKK gov.

amerigirl

[offtopic]

RoundHillGuy

The rainbow circus has come to town. What a bunch of clowns.

WellIsntThatSpecial

Dunn agrees with these nitwits, but expresses it in a different way. And that difference is unacceptable to the "open minded / accept diversity" idiots on the left. The hypocrisy is nonsensical.

Loudoun4Trump

May have more credibility if you protested an actual klansman as our governor....what a whiney needy group of haters....

swampfiller

May have even more credibility if I knew what you were talking about. You have to remember when our censors take everybody down to make sure you are not being naughty, they don't put your comment back where it was, so it doesn't make sense. Next best thing to censorship

amerigirl

[offtopic] You need a fact check. This article is about Dunn, I guess you missed that.

Jeanne T

The hall monitor is on duty!

scottva

The transgendered person said: "“You don’t have the right to say identities don’t matter. They matter to me.” So you can protest to show it matters to you, that's your right, however, you DO NOT have the right to tell people that they CANNOT say identities don't matter. I think it's great that you determined if you should stand or sit when you go to the bathroom but that does NOT entitle you to anything special. You're still a person, presumably a women, you do not and should not have more rights than any other American and for you to say that someone does not have the right to their opinion simply because you disagree with it. Sounds like you have your identity figured out, trying taking a shot at understanding Americans basics rights, All Americans.

Jeanne T

They are using their imagined identities to force others to make a confession.

amerigirl

What confession? What imagined identities? Are those dark skinned people not black or people of a different sexual orientation than yours not who they say they are?

swampfiller

The NAACP and the KHFRTQZ are organizations teeming with bigots. They are outsiders until they decline to be africanamericans and decide to be just Americans.

amerigirl

Wouldn't that be great if all people of color, and all sexual orientations were treated equally and could feel like just Americans?

swampfiller

The first part, the only way to stop racism is to be just Americans. African -Amercan or any other hyphenated American causes division. The second part, I struggle with because I am a BIBLE believing Christian, the Bible teaches us to love our enemies and since I am as big a sinner as anybody, I find that hard to do especially on this issue. There BIBLE states that homosexiuality is an abomination to the LORD. I have had gay friends but the BIBLE states that I am not to fellowship with the ungodly. I would be happy to listen to a solution, but I am not going put my beliefs aside for any body. And i would ignor anybody that would call me a bigot nor any other names, that would show me that what they say has no merit. I don't see any solution, any other opinions without the hate?

Jeanne T

Wouldn't it be great if people could disagree on issues without being labeled as a "bigot"?

Chris McHale

The irony of people protesting some exercising his free speech is amazing. However I don't begrudge those protesting it is their right to do so. However Cambell seeking to censor Dunn should have be view as an embarrassment. I'm glad his motion failed miserably. Now I hope his career follows his motion.

amerigirl

He can speak about it all he wants but to do so on a document that is made to recognize and celebrate something is wrong. It's like your kid getting an award in school for excellence and somebody writing on it that they are actually better than your kid.

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