Loudoun's Board of Supervisors on Tuesday night approved a motion from Supervisor Ron Meyer (R-Broad Run) recognizing the month of July as "Love Loudoun Month" as a way to honor the victims of the June 12 terrorist attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla.
Meyer's motion was offered as a substitute proclamation to Supervisor Kristen Umstattd's (D-Leesburg) proposed resolution that would have recognized the month of June as LGBT Awareness Month.
Supervisors voted 5-4, with Umstattd, Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At-Large), Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) and Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian) opposed.
Randall said, with the passage of Meyer's motion, the board would not revisit Umstattd's controversial LGBT resolution.
Higgins said he would not support either of the proclamations and called them an "abuse" of the board's resolution process.
"I have friends, co-workers, family members that are in [the LGBT] community," Higgins said. "I don't support discrimination against them or anyone else. I don't support the horror that happened in Florida, the terrorism and the sickness that happened there."
Prior to the vote, the board welcomed speakers both opposed to and in support of the resolution. Speakers ranged from local leaders to members of the faith and LGBT community.
Loudoun County state Sen. Dick Black (R) spoke in opposition to Umstattd's proclamation and argued he did not think it reflected the "public sentiment of the county."
"I understand it addresses struggles of homosexuals and they undoubtedly have their issues to face, but many families face greater struggles and certainly the gay struggles are not economic ones," Black said.
Umstattd said she received more than 30 emails from Loudoun County residents in support of the resolution.
Nick Harding, a gay man from the Algonkian District, told the board the LGBT resolution would give he and the rest of the gay community something to be proud of.
"A lot of times, gay and lesbian and trans folk here in Loudoun and elsewhere don't feel all that proud. [The resolution] gives us something to shoot for," Harding said.
Umstattd's proclamation, made public last month, drew sharp criticism from local Republicans. Will Estrada, chairman of the Loudoun County Republican Committee and former candidate for Leesburg supervisor, urged the board to vote against the resolution.
In a letter to the editor sent to the Times-Mirror and other local media outlets, Virginia state Del. Dave LaRock (R-33rd) last week called Umstattd's proposal offensive and argued the resolution would promote "homosexuality and gender confusion to people of all ages," and could also be used to promote, affirm and recruit young school-aged children to those lifestyles."