A lesbian couple in Prince William County is pressing for an apology from Supervisor Jeanine Lawson, R-Brentsville, after she told their 15-year-old daughter that she believes “children deserve a mother and a father” in an exchange outside a polling place on Election Day.
Evelyn and Heidi BruMar of Gainesville said their adoptive daughter, Rose, was handing out sample ballots for the Democratic Party outside Gainesville Middle School on Nov. 7 when she encountered Lawson.
Though only Evelyn BruMar witnessed portions of the interaction, the married couple said their daughter told them about her exchange with Lawson that day. The girl said she mentioned that she had “two moms” and Lawson subsequently told her that “every child deserves a mother and father in a biblical sense,” a comment the supervisor confirmed in an interview.
“She might believe that, but that was meant to hurt my daughter and devalue her,” said Evelyn BruMar, one of Lawson’s constituents who also volunteers as a Democratic activist. “You shouldn’t say that sort of thing to a child. That’s bullying.”
Lawson said she remembers at least part of that conversation. She was greeting voters at the polls in support of Del. Bob Marshall, R-13th District, when she struck up a conversation with the teenager, a sophomore at Patriot High School, who told her “one of my moms doesn’t like you.”
“That caught me by surprise a bit,” Lawson said. “She told me things about her family life, and I told her in a very polite way, I said I believe children deserve a mother and a father. It was not a debate about anything.”
Lawson stressed that the conversation was “pleasant and civil,” and that the pair made small talk for several minutes afterward.
Evelyn BruMar said she arrived to find three other women arguing with her daughter.
“When I walked up, lots of people were yelling, just getting aggressive,” she said. “I jumped in as soon as I got there, and told them, ‘This is not how you have a discussion with a child.’”
Lawson confirmed that those three women (whom she didn’t know by name, but knew were volunteering on Marshall’s behalf) had gotten into “a disagreement about abortion” with the teenager. But the supervisor said she didn’t get involved in that conversation, and didn’t speak to Evelyn BruMar when she arrived.
Evelyn BruMar is puzzled why Lawson didn’t intervene at the time or why she would allow the situation to escalate with a teenager involved.
Now the BruMars are hoping for an apology from their supervisor or even for the full Board of County Supervisors to go a step further and censure Lawson for her comments.
“When did it become acceptable for an elected official to bully a child?” Heidi BruMar said during her comments at the board’s Nov. 21 meeting. “Someone is coming to unseat you in 2019...Bullying won’t be tolerated in this community.”
But Lawson is adamant that any insinuation that she acted inappropriately is “completely false.”
“There was nothing at all hostile about my conversation with the young lady, so much so that we continued to talk about her guitar lessons afterward,” Lawson said.