Q: Do you consider yourself to be an LGBTQ ally? Why/why not?
Yes, for three reasons: A. As a card-carrying member of the ACLU, I have long taken the absolute position of the ACLU that there can be no distinctions among sexual preferences.
B. As a lawyer, I have put this belief into action. For example – in 1984, when it was decidedly NOT a popular position in the law, I brought Virginia’s first “homosexual palimony” case. The question there was whether a man who had shared in the construction costs of his partner’s home would be allowed to share in the proceeds of the sale of the house when they separated. Virginia law, to that point, had been that because the relationship revolved around illegal activities, the courts would not intervene. I persuaded the judge – in Orange County, mind you – to break from that precedent. I have also consulted with Lambda Legal from time to time on some of their Virginia cases – usually criminal cases where the gay defendant was defending himself from an attack, and wound up getting charged. I have not had to step in, but have been able to provide the lawyers involved with some caselaw that was helpful on the issue. I have also served as a guardian ad litem for children in same-sex relationships (probably 25 years ago), and at a time when the law in Virginia was strongly anti-LGBTQ, I tried to make sure that the result in court was fair to all, despite court pressures to the contrary.
C. My church – the Episcopal Church – includes in its Baptismal Covenant the promise that we will strive to respect the dignity of every human being. No exceptions. St. Paul’s embraced same-sex unions very early on, and I was on the Vestry as we pushed this forward. We have tried both to be LGBTQ-friendly and
also to be known as LGBTQ-friendly.
Q: As an elected official, what role will you play or push your elected body to play in promoting the safety and wellness of LGBTQ people who are parents, children, homeless, of color, disabled, tourists, new to the area?
The one problem that I am aware of (I am sure that there are others that I am not aware of) is the perception that the local police do not value the safety of LGBTQ people as highly as they value the safety of white, cis-, heterosexual people. I have heard the complaints more with
Albemarle County police than with Charlottesville police, but I have had clients who report feeling disrespected by City police officers. Within proper organizational boundaries, we need to make clear to our new City Police Chief and City Manager that police officers must be sensitive to the need to treat all people with respect, and that we expect that performance evaluations will take that job requirement into account.
I have assisted parents of LGBTQ children who were being bullied in schools, though not in Charlottesville.
I am not aware of any other current issues that would be encompassed in your question, but I would be interested to learn of any issues that Council would be able to weigh in on.
Q: Are you safe-space trained and, if not, are you willing to be and to push your fellow officials, staff, and partners to get trained, along with trainings in implicit bias and bystander training addressing race and gender issues that also affect members of the LGBTQ community?
No, and yes. I would welcome the chance to learn what I don’t know that I don’t know.
I should add that I went to the cvillepride.org website that mentioned the difference between “welcoming” spaces and “safe” spaces, and the link to a resource list was dead…
Q: What else do you want the local LGBTQ community to know about you?
I have come to the C-ville Pride Festival for years. When St. Paul’s has had a table at
Pride, I have helped staff the table. And I love the slogan that “Y’All Means All.” For me, this is both a constitutional and a theological statement.