WINCHESTER — The Frederick County Board of Supervisors voted 6-1 on Wednesday to rescind a recent change to the county’s anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy that protected lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) county staff from discrimination.

Republican Supervisors Charles DeHaven Jr., Gary Lofton, Blaine Dunn, Bob Wells, Judith McCann-Slaughter and J. Douglas McCarthy voted to rescind the policy at Wednesday night’s board meeting. Independent Supervisor Shannon Trout was the lone vote to keep the policy in place.

The vote removes specific protections for LGBT people employed by the county government, which has 726 full-time and 250 part-time employees. It also rescinds other new protections put in place, including for pregnancy, child birth and related conditions, color and military status. The original policy prohibited discrimination based on race, gender, religion, national origin, age, disability, marital status and protected veteran status.

The revised policy was rescinded, with little discussion, after being in place for a little more than a month on the basis that it violated state law, according to Dunn, chairman of the board's Human Resources Committee. He said on Thursday he was unaware of any other aspects of the revised policy that violated state law.

At the board’s July 10 meeting, the supervisors updated the county’s anti-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation, genetic information and sex stereotyping. Public Information Officer Karen Vacchio subsequently told The Star the language referring to sex stereotyping and genetic information provided protection for transgender people.

Dunn, who made the motion to approve the revised policy at the July meeting, said he was unaware sexual orientation was included in the policy when he voted to approve it. At Wednesday night’s meeting, he made a motion to rescind the policy, claiming it was inconsistent with Virginia law and a violation of the Dillon Rule. Adopted by the Virginia Supreme Court in 1896, the Dillon Rule limits a local government’s authority so that it can only pass ordinances or exercise power in areas where the General Assembly has granted authority.

Virginia has no law to protect people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in the private or public workplace.

Dunn said on Thursday that he was told by Republican Del. Dave LaRock, of Hamilton, who represents the 33rd District, that the county’s policy protecting LGBT employees was inconsistent with the Dillon Rule.

Dunn and Wells declined to answer whether they think the state should pass legislation extending workplace discrimination protections to LGBT people, with Wells saying "that's a deep, dark question." DeHaven said he had no opinion on whether the terms sexual orientation and gender identity should be added to state discrimination law.

Roderick Williams, Frederick County’s attorney, said the board’s decision to rescind the revised policy went into effect immediately. He declined on Thursday to offer his legal opinion on whether the policy violated state law. “I don’t know if it’s appropriate to give a legal opinion in this context,” he said.

Revising the county’s anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy will be revisited at a future Human Resources Committee meeting.

Trout said she did not know why the LGBT protections were rescinded but said not discriminating “seems pretty straightforward and common sense.”

“I read the policy when we approved it and thought it was a great policy,” Trout said. “So I was actually taken by surprise that we were voting to rescind it. I was completely unaware that this was going to be coming before the board.”

Clarke County and the City of Winchester governments do not specifically include sexual orientation or gender identify in their discrimination policies.

LaRock said in a phone interview on Thursday that the state should not provide special rights or protections for “chosen sexual habits.”

He previously said transgender people have a mental disorder and that it would be “very disturbing” if they were able to teach a kindergarten class. In a 2017 Loudoun Tribune opinion piece he compared gay people and “gender impersonators” to smokers, saying, “Like smoking, homosexuality has many serious health-related consequences.”

He noted that Section § 15.2-965 of the state code says any locality may enact an ordinance “not inconsistent with nor more stringent than any applicable state law, prohibiting discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations, credit, and education on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, national origin, age, marital status, or disability.”

But Del. Mark Levine, D-Alexandria, said there is no prohibition for localities to set a policy refusing to discriminate, noting that Alexandria and Arlington provide protections on the basis of sexual orientation. He also pointed out that the state government bans discrimination against state employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity as a result of executive orders from Democratic governors in recent years.

Levine added that the Frederick County supervisors were not passing an ordinance that would forbid county businesses from discriminating against LGBT people. It was just a protection for their own employees.

Each year, Levine has introduced bills that would provide protections for LGBT people against discrimination from landlords and public employers. He said the bills are always left to die in Republican-controlled committees.

“This will never happen unless the House is controlled by Democrats,” Levine said. “But it will happen when we take over. This is a pure party-line issue.”

Del. Wendy Gooditis, D-Clarke County, said she would vote in favor of bills to provide statewide protection to the LGBT community in housing and employment.

“Workplace protections for members of the LGBT community are integral for freedom, equality, business investment, and in my opinion, human rights,” Gooditis said. “I would vote for these freedoms at the state level and hope that these same freedoms spread at the county level as well.”

Sen. Jill Vogel, R-Upperville, has voted on bills in the Senate that would provide housing and employment protections to LGBT people.

“I don’t support discrimination,” Vogel said. “You shouldn’t discriminate. Period.”

LaRock disputes the notion that discrimination should always be illegal and is always a bad thing, claiming that employers discriminate based on intelligence or skill sets when they hire employees. He also said overweight people are often discriminated against by people hiring fashion models.

“We do discriminate,” LaRock said. “We need to be able to discriminate based on if people are smarter or better suited for certain jobs. That’s just the reality.”

Georgia Andrews, a local attorney and founder of Winchester Pride, an LGBT celebration, said the Dillon Rule is frequently used by opponents of LGBT rights to stop localities from adding protections.

She said Frederick County’s decision to rescind its policy demonstrates “why we need to have an amendment to the [state] constitution and why the language in regards to discrimination needs to be broader than what we have now.”

“I hope that people realize that your localities in and of themselves cannot protect you,” Andrews said. “You have to have broader legislation, and LGBT has to be included from the very top down. But it may be that the way to get that done is to start from the bottom up, and we may need a locality that actually does challenge it to give this the exposure that it needs. It obviously isn’t going to be Frederick County.”

Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D- 10th, cosponsored and helped pass the Equality Act in the House of Representatives to provide comprehensive federal nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ individuals because "no one should have to worry about getting married to the person they love on Sunday and being fired for it on Monday."

The Equality Act is in the hands of the Republican-controlled Senate.

— Contact Josh Janney at jjanney@winchesterstar.com

(31) comments

We-are-our-worst-enemy

All i see is a bunch of Whining here from all sides! Exclamation!!!!!! At the end of the day, if we were all "GOOD HEARTED HUMANS" Key word "HUMANS" ,

This type of B.S. would not be Conversational...Period...

The "HUMAN RACE" is to far gone for help, and has been for a long time. The Best 2 thing My parents taught me when i was growing up is that "IT IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT" And " TREAT OTHERS HOW YOU WANT TO BE TREATED" . I Am sure most of you in here were taught that, Maybe you just forgot it.

Spock Here

Definition: "unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex." Synonyms: prejudice, bias, bigotry, intolerance, narrow-mindedness, unfairness, inequity, favoritism, one-sidedness.

Just posting this because it seems the usual conversion theorists should have their outdated and debunked extremist views if they choose, but really, if you don't hire the most qualified because you "think" someone doesn't match your particular view, that's discrimination. It's not about a personal decision like a tattoo...if your company has a dress code and the guy or gal has one, it should be covered. And you pick your friends based on personal shared likes, dislikes, world view etc. It's not discrimination, unless of course you state loudly that you won't be friends with her, because she's a particular race, or him because he looks "gay." It's no doubt legal to state that, but you'll probably lose your friends who choose to abide by the golden rule and treat others the way you, with your narrower view of the world, want to be treated. Just be a nice person without trying to decide if this person meets your criteria for friendship. Is this person qualified and will this person benefit your company. None of your business what goes on off duty, as long as it's not illegal. Simple concept.

ktdesign

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”



― Benjamin Franklin

More outrageous Republican regression of democracy. They could have done something constructive but they chose to create victims instead. Vote them out.

Spock Here

Or, "if you are not already outraged, you are not paying attention."

Poopsie

It saddens me that Winchester and Frederick County are going back to the 50's with their removal of protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Steve Cunningham

It is all based upon state laws, contact your General Assembly representative and have them correct this at the state level.

Unknown

WoW. What a sad bunch of people on the Board of Supervisors. This really makes Frederick County look bad. Just common.

Steve Cunningham

Contact your General Assembly representative and have them correct this at the state level as the article indicates.

Don Specht

Is there a connection?



"The Trump administration caused an uproar Wednesday for proposing a policy that would give certain federal contractors the right to discriminate against people who don’t share their employer’s religious views."



https://www.vox.com/identities/2019/8/16/20806990/trump-religion-lgbtq-discrimination-rule?fbclid=IwAR2wHQ5ecckgUKbPbmi4aRYJ0D39Xhp_hpZI8Nv3FbT0LAHOB62WTsy7Gvw

anon

"LaRock said in a phone interview on Thursday that the state should not provide special rights or protections for “chosen sexual habits.”



For a variety of reasons I use to think it was a choice but the last time I thought that in 1988 at the age of 18.



What is his excuse?



I will LMAO when one of his family members or close friends announces they are gay. Maybe then, finally, he might realize it is not a choice.


Rattler

Ine should get job because they are best candidate for the job regardless . Sorry if i offend anyone but personally some male that think he is a female that looks like a man in drag should not be teaching kindergarten. This is very confusing to the children . School is a place to learn subjects to make something out of their life not sexual orientation . On other side of coun why is hiusing being discriminated against. Now that doesn't make sense.

gscottanderson

The old saying is that there are two sides to every story. Clearly, there are two views on this issue. But why should the writer take sides? The Winchester Star writers have given up being journalists in favor of carrying the water for whatever they personally believe. The true test of a journalist is this - readers can't tell which side of the issue the writer is on. If that test is applied to the Star writers, they all get F's!

CRT

Two things: 1. LaRock is a bigoted idiot, but we already knew that. 2. Dunn didn't read the policy before he introduced and voted in favor of it?

Conservative

Most politicians don't read what they vote for. They just like their title.

Valerie78

CRT - exactly what I came here to say.especially #2.

Jasba64

You forgot to use the word Racist. Are you slipping?

Anna Thomson

We take orders now from LaRock, from Hamilton? Regardless of the issue, judging from his stupid statements such as, "we discriminate against employees based on skill sets" etc., I would be circumspect about his advice. In fact, Frederick County does not 'discriminate' this way. Choosing to hire someone who is more qualified in a particular field over another employee prospect is not 'discrimination' Mr. LaRock. Choosing to hire a less qualified candidate based on unlawful criteria such as race would be discrimination. But one thing is clear from LaRock's comments, he is a bigot of the first order and an embassassment to the state. I would hope the Board would steer clear of using him to vet these issues in the future and instead listen to someone who has a better grasp of the law.

slowe

LaRock is wrong, just wrong, and therefore harmful, as are all who choose to support him.

Conservative

Blah blah blah, whine whine whine. Unnatural behaviors are choices. Period.

trunuyawkr

Homosexuality exists in animals. Tell me again how it is "unnatural"?



You're just as much of a bigot as LaRock is. That man needs to be voted out, and NOW. Anyone who states "discrimination is ok, and even wanted" has ZERO right to be in a position of authority or legislation.

Conservative

Whether you like it or not, we all discriminate. We discriminate on who we want to be friends with, what car to drive, where to live, what school to go to, who we want to work with, who we want to work for us, who we want to live with. It's always going to be that way. I wouldn't want a pierced and tattooed person with strange hair colors teaching elementary school anymore than having a person with a criminal record working in a bank. The problem with micro identifying every little sub-group of people to not be discriminated against is that it will never end, and someone will always come up with a new subset of people. Just because you didn't get the job or house or car you wanted, doesn't necessarily mean you were discriminated against based on race, sexual orientation, or gender. Quit blaming others and look within for your shortcomings. Chances are it's the choices YOU'VE made that are holding you back.

ShruggingAtlas

Humans are not animals, try again.



I guess you let anyone in your house or around your family members because you don't discriminate, right? If not, then by your own definition you are a bigot. What utter nonsense.

trunuyawkr

The comment, Atlas, is that homosexuality isn't natural. If it exists IN NATURE (i.e., animals) then YES, but the very definition, IT IS NATURAL.



That you do not like it is immaterial. The powers that be didn't ask for anyone's opinion when the world was created.



Try to keep up.......

Valerie78

you might want to educate yourself before posting your blah blah blah. also, you might want to revisit the definition of whining. stating one's opinion is not whining.

Conservative

slowe is ALWAYS whining.

Valerie78

conservative- and you spend a great deal of effort whining about slowe, pretty much on a daily basis. the irony isn't lost on me.

Conservative

@Valerie78 - Not true. We go back and forth about choice vs. born that way all the time. We have our opinions. The irony isn't lost on me when he whines about being able to do what he wants, but won't allow people who think differently than he does to do what they want. But thanks for playing along.[wink]

Don Specht

"Unnatural behaviors are choices."



Not true. Period.


ShruggingAtlas

Yes they are choices. Period.

Conservative

True. Exclamation point.

Spock Here

I think a really unnatural behavior is fantasizing about shooting people. I tell myself he can't help it, he was born that way.



I do find it "odd" that someone would make the choice to "be" someone who would be ostracized and shamed as "sinners" by some of the people here. I can only assume this is highly amusing to those that made the "unnatural choice."

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