Loudoun 'War on Christmas' issue makes for strange allies
Apparently, Christmas can make for odd bedfellows.
In recent days, the ACLU of Virginia and deeply conservative Loudoun County Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R) have found themselves on the same side of a War on Christmas debate raging in Loudoun County. That happens as often as ... well, as Christmas landing in July.
The issue: Whether the Loudoun Board of Supervisors should retain a public forum space on the county's courthouse grounds in Leesburg, the traditional site for religious displays such as trees, nativity scenes and menorahs around Christmas and Hanukkah.
It's been an ongoing dispute. First a resident-led commission decided last November that the county should ban unattended displays at the courthouse because they were concerned about an increasing number of requests by public groups to use the space.
But the elimination drew unwelcome attention to the county after the commission denied a local rotary group's application to put a Christmas tree on court grounds.
So the Board of Supervisors stepped in and drew up a new policy: 10 groups are allowed to place displays in the public forum at any given time, on a first come, first served basis. The space is viewpoint neutral, and any group that follows the rules can participate.
But opening the public forum to all groups has meant allowing some unpopular views to be displayed. Concerned that the public forum was becoming a messy and difficult-to-manage free-for-all, the supervisors agreed to consider changing the rules or reinstating that ban on unattended displays. They've scheduled a vote for tomorrow to decide the issue.
Enter Delgaudio and the ACLU. They're both opposed to the ban. Delgaudio has written a series of notes to his supporters and posted them on his Web site. One asked residents to attend a public hearing on the issue because it was the "last chance for you to speak on religious liberty in Loudoun."
Another exhorted people to "save Christmas in July." His most recent missive, which arrived yesterday, was headlined, "Liberal Majorities: Nightmares on End."
The ACLU of Virginia meanwhile sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors today, urging them to maintain the public forum. In the letter, ACLU Executive Director Kent Willis wrote that he urged the board to address the issue "with an eye toward preserving the spirit of free expression that is so much a part of our nation's heritage and continuing vitality."
So on the same side are the ACLU and Delgaudio, perhaps best known for over-the-top rhetoric on gay rights issues deemed homophobic by many, including some of his fellow supervisors?
"At some point -- maybe only once in their life -- everyone agrees with the ACLU," Willis said.
July 19, 2010; 5:28 PM ET
Categories: Loudoun County , Rosalind Helderman
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