Metro Weekly

AGLA Names Equality Award Winners

Clerk of the Circuit Court of Arlington, LGBT-friendly garden club chosen by unanimous vote

'Witness for Love'' rally in Arlington, Virginia (Photo by John Riley)

Clerk of the Circuit Court of Arlington Paul Ferguson (center), an AGLA Equality Award winner, participates in a ‘Witness for Love” rally in Arlington, Virginia in the spring of 2014. 
Photo: John Riley

The Arlington Gay & Lesbian Alliance (AGLA), a Virginia-based organization seeking to improve the lives of LGBT people and build relationships with potential allies through social activities, nonpartisan outreach and community service projects, will honor Paul Ferguson, clerk of the circuit court of Arlington, and the Four Seasons Garden Club at its annual holiday party.

The AGLA Equality Awards, which are given out at the organization’s party, honor one individual and one organization that have worked to improve LGBT equality in Arlington. Both of this year’s recipients were chosen unanimously by AGLA’s board. 

Ferguson, receiving the individual award, was nominated by several individuals for his steadfast support of marriage equality, even when Virginia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage was still active. He became a fixture of an annual rally, held either around Valentine’s Day or in the spring by People of Faith for Equality in Virginia (POFEV), calling for the right of same-sex couples to wed. At the rally, Ferguson would ask same-sex couples seeking a marriage license to come forward, apologize that he had to reject their marriage applications, but promising to keep those applications on file until the law changed. In October, when the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding a lower court decision finding the marriage ban unconstitutional, Ferguson’s office was able to swiftly and smoothly transition to offering licenses to same-sex couples.

The Four Seasons Garden Club, which is primarily geared toward the LGBT community but open to all garden enthusiasts, will receive AGLA’s Organization Equality Award. The Four Seasons Garden Club is being honored for preserving elements of the healing garden at Arlington’s now-closed Whitman-Walker Clinic, helping move the healing garden and labyrinth to Barton Park for public enjoyment.

“I think this year’s winners really illustrate the impact that one person or a group of people can have on the larger community,” AGLA’s president, Tiffany Joslyn, said in a statement. “Neither of the winners is flashy. But their actions have been personal, and from the heart. Reading the nominations for Paul Ferguson, in particular, almost brought a tear to your eye. What they have both done has been extra, going beyond their official capacities to affect people’s lives in profound ways.” 

The 2014 AGLA Equality Awards will be presented at AGLA’s annual holiday party on Tuesday, Dec. 9 at Freddies Beach Bar & Restaurant, 555 23rd St. S, Arlington, Va. For more information, visit agla.org or contact Tiffany Joslyn at president@agla.org.

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com