LOVETTSVILLE, Va. – The Lovettsville Town Council is drawing criticism from community groups after denying passage of a proclamation last Thursday that would have recognized June as Pride month.
After a motion was made by Councilwoman Renee Edmonston to take up the proclamation submitted to the Council by members of the public, the motion was denied both discussion and a vote after failing to receive support from a second member.
In her closing statement, Edmonston explained why she believed collaborating with community members and sponsoring the motion were necessary.
“The LGBTQ+ community along with everyone in our great town should be able to live without fear of prejudice, discrimination, violence and hatred based on race, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation,” Edmonston said.
Some Council members offered their rationale behind declining to move the proclamation forward, a measure they also rejected in 2021.
“I don’t believe that seconding or making a proclamation of a statement that is not signifying an event of one of our organizations, our community member service — and that’s what we discussed last year — is in the vein of what was proposed,” Vice Mayor Christopher Hornbaker said.
But for some Council members and members of the public present at the meeting, such arguments weren’t sufficient.
Lovettsville Mayor Nathaniel Fontaine, a non-voting Council member, expressed disagreement with the body’s decision following the proclamation’s failure to advance.
“That was a proclamation that was celebratory of and getting recognition to a portion of our populace here,” Fontaine said. “I don’t understand why we could not even get a second to even have that discussion here this evening.”
Against a national background of anti-LGBTQ legislation and pushes to restrict conversations pertaining to the community, local advocates are similarly denouncing the Council’s decision.
Equality Loudoun, a local LGBTQ support and advocacy organization operating in Loudoun County where Lovettsville is located, is one group pushing back.
Cris Candace Tuck, president of Equality Loudoun’s board of directors, commented on the decision on behalf of the organization.
“Our community faces constant harassment, abuse and violence,” Tuck said. “These efforts lead to both children and adults feeling afraid, feeling lost, and feeling like they don’t belong in their own community.”
Current data shows the true impact to which Tuck alluded.
Statistics from a survey the Trevor Project, conducted earlier this year suggested consistently lower rates of attempted suicide among LGBTQ youth who perceived their communities as more accepting of their identity.
Tuck made mention of Lovettsville’s own history with such when explaining how the proclamation could have broad effects on the community.
“This simple passage could have saved a child’s life like the Lovettsville teenager who died by suicide a few years ago because of a lack of acceptance,” Tuck said. “We implore the Council to correct this action and pass a proclamation so that all citizens feel like they belong in their own community.”
Tuck conveyed the absence of action to be a statement in and of itself.
“The silence in this case was deafening,” said Tuck.