“Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
Given its prominent role in the Civil War (and during Segregation, where many citizens of the county actively resisted the desegregation of public schools, albeit non-violently), Loudoun County’s history on civil rights is considered by many shaky, at best.
Today, while still predominantly white, the county is a little more diverse, with non-whites accounting for approximately 25% of the population (based on 2008 census data). Discrimination in the area is considered by many a thing of the past.
However, the Board of Supervisors recently voted in a partisan debate to insert protections for gay, lesbian and transgendered individuals into an anti-discrimination clause, over fears that Governor-Elect Bob McDonnell (who is sworn in tomorrow) will not protect their rights. McDonnell has stated that his office will not discriminate, but fears have arisen over his criticism of Executive Order 1, which McDonnell challenged as Attorney-General because he did not feel it was within the scope of the office’s powers. The order bans discrimination “on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, age, political affiliation, or against otherwise qualified persons with disabilities. The policy [also] permits appropriate employment preferences for veterans and specifically prohibits discrimination against veterans.”
While the vote was lauded by many as a civil rights victory, there was some opposition. Lori Waters (R-Broad Run) questioned the decision based on previous case law. From the Leesburg Today:
“Without legal opinion and legal advice from our own County Attorney, our own legal advisors to look at the law, and what we are legally and not legally allowed to do, we are asking for a lawsuit,” Waters said.
Fairfax County faced a similar dilemma years ago and was told they could not insert such language without approval of the legislature by then Attorney-General Jerry Kilgore.
Scott York (I-At Large) abstained himself from the voting, calling it a “moot point” and “a waste of 20 minutes”. Loudoun County policy does not discriminate against applicants for sexual orientation or gender identity.
Susan Klimek Buckley (D-Sugarland Run), rebutted such claims, saying that the wording “simply codifies what we already do”. Other arguments offered include that concerns of legislative authority need not apply to the Board of Supervisors, an elected body.
Weigh in Below: How do you feel about the current climate of civil rights in Loudoun County?