Fairness West Virginia, a statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer advocacy organization, held a fundraiser Sunday night as part of their fight to change hate crime and discrimination laws within the mountain state.
“Hate crimes don’t only impact targeted individuals, but they also impact the community from which the individual comes from,” said Fairness WV Executive Director Andrew Schneider.
Currently, West Virginia is one of only 20 states that lack LGBTQ protections under hate crime laws.
“The fact that sexual orientation and gender identity have been excluded sends a green light to those who would like to commit violence,” added Schneider, “That is a horrible message to be sending.”
Sunday evening, the organization held a “Y’all Means All” fundraiser to support their efforts. Local restaurants donated the food for the event free of charge and all proceeds raised will go directly back to the organization. The event was held at the Empty Glass located in Charleston’s East End.
“About a year ago here at the Empty Glass, we had a women attacked in a really egregious hate crime,” recalled Fairness WV Communication Director Billy Wolfe.
The attack on Angel Harless earlier this year isn’t the only hate crime here in the mountain state. Before Angel, it was an attack of a same sex couple on Marshall’s campus in 2015. Before that, it was the 2000 murder of JR Warren.
“So now, its like three strikes you’re out,” Schneider told 13 News. “We need to take action. Our legislators need to know how important this bill is not just for the LGBTQ community, but for all West Virginians.”