Fairness West Virginia

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Morgantown City Council passed a law last night that provides employment, housing and other protections for members of the gay, bisexual and transgender communities, making the city the eleventh municipality in West Virginia to provide legally enforceable protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

 

After discussion that stretched well over two hours, council members voted 7 to 0 in favor of a measure that expands its Human Rights Commission. The ordinance provides a legal course of action in civil court related to cases involving discrimination based on the added statuses.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Before a September 12th Parkersburg City Council meeting, LGBTQ rights advocates held a rally to let members of the council know that, despite the failure of a non discrimination ordinance, they’ll continue to fight for equal rights in their hometown.

In early August, the Parkersburg City Council shot down an ordinance that would have protected residents from employment and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In a conference call with reporters moderated by former delegate Meshea Poore, Margaret Chapman Pomponio, of the West Virginia FREE Action Fund, Andrew Schneider, of Fairness West Virginia, and State Delegate Mike Pushkin gave statements opposing Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

An aerial view of downtown Parkersburg.
Yassie / wikimedia Commons

A group in Parkersburg has launched a campaign to pass a city ordinance that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel reports that the group met with representatives from civil rights organization Fairness West Virginia on Monday to discuss how to get the city to pass such an ordinance.

courtesy Fairness West Virginia

This story was updated March 2, 7:40 pm: House Bill 4012 died on a 7 to 27 vote by the West Virginia Senate. The bill, known as the Religious Freedom Protection Act, would have established a process for courts to follow when people or businesses claimed that government action was infringing upon their religious beliefs.

17-year old Davis Kimble, a young activist who had spoken out against the bill earlier this week, had this response to the Senate's decision:"I think this serves as a victory for not only minorities across the state, but also for passionate community leaders who stood up and made their voices heard. It's a shame we had to fight this fight, but it shows a willingness on the part of our state legislatures to hear the people's voices and do what's best for the state and its wonderful people."

On West Virginia Morning, Liz McCormick reports from Martinsburg where the city council is considering an ordinance that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.  And Ashton Marra talks with governors attending the National Governors Association meeting at the Greenbrier last week about their efforts to combat substance abuse.  These stories on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Radio news – telling West Virginia’s story.


Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Martinsburg City Council is considering an ordinance that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in both housing and employment. The state of West Virginia does not provide these protections to the LGBT community although lawmakers have introduced bills for several years that would do so.

Because of the lack of support at the state level, members of Fairness West Virginia, an LGBT rights group, have spent the past year or so calling on cities to pass these protections. At the Martinsburg meeting Wednesday night, members of the community were heavily divided.

theodoranian / wikimedia Commons

West Virginia advocacy groups are reacting to a new federal ruling that further protects the LGBT community. A Thursday ruling by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has deemed discrimination against workers based on sexual orientation illegal.

Senate Takes Back the Charter Schools Bill

Feb 24, 2015

At the legislature today, bills are read in their entirety on the Senate floor as Democrats retaliate for action on the charter schools bill.  In the House, the Judiciary committee begins to consider amendments to the Coal Mine Safety and Jobs Act.  And, we’ll get a first look at a new documentary about one of West Virginia’s most notable politicians on The Legislature Today.

Bitmapped / wikimedia Commons

Thurmond, West Virginia is the smallest town in America to pass an ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

In a unanimous vote Monday night, the town of five residents adopted employment, housing and public accommodation protections to a new town-wide Human Rights Act.

Brynn Kusic

Racism and homophobia, love and tolerance--none of these are new to Appalachia. Today, we explore the stories of Appalachians who are moved to spread love, not hate.

In West Virginia, a racist hate crime shakes a community to spread a message of tolerance.

And a Kentucky songwriter’s high lonesome tune is inspired by a gay coal miner’s true story.

Fairness West Virginia

Songwriter Sam Gleaves was inspired by the story of Sam Williams, a former coal miner who was harassed at work for being gay. 

Sam Gleaves is a musician who grew up playing old time mountain music in Southwestern Virginia. His songs have a high lonesome, old-time sound. Their roots are deep in Appalachia, and the stories they tell explore some bitter truths about how hard it can be to be different here. I met up with Gleaves at his home in Berea, KY to talk about one song in particular.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  West Virginia lawmakers are again promoting a bill to prohibit employers and landlords from discriminating against people based on sexual orientation.

At a Fairness West Virginia news conference Monday, Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler and other Democratic officials discussed the legislation that Kessler has supported for years.

Appalachian Electric Power executive Charles Patton also spoke in support of it.

West Virginia law prohibits discrimination in employment and housing based a variety of factors, from race and religion to blindness or disability.

Fairness WV

The LGBT advocacy organization Fairness West Virginia held their annual conference in Charleston Saturday and this year, the group had plenty to celebrate. 

After saying he would no longer fight an appeal to the state's gay marriage ban, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's decision essentially made the practice legal in the state and on Oct. 9, county clerks began issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples across the state.

Fairness Executive Director Andrew Schneider said Saturday that's certainly something to celebrate, but the fight isn't yet over. Now, the organization is looking on to its next legislative battles.