Community leaders condemn delegate’s opposition to Fairness Act

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Community leaders from across West Virginia joined forces Tuesday morning condemning one state delegate’s social media post.

Del. John Mandt, R-Cabell, posted to Facebook, that the Fairness Act, “falsely claims to be a civil rights bill” and he wouldn’t support it this legislative session.

The ‘Fairness Act’ has been introduced to the legislature several times and has never been passed. This bill proposes adding LGBTQ anti-discrimination laws for employment, housing and public space.

While the proposal is receiving bipartisan support, originally introduced by Del. Joshua Higginbotham, R-Putnam, Del. Mandt is not on board.

On Facebook, Del. Mandt said “[the Fairness Act] is nothing more than a wrongful appropriation of the civil rights movement to force a behavioral pattern into a legally protected class.”

Other state lawmakers and LGBTQ activists virtually discussed these “harmful and misleading” remarks.

Del. Cody Thompson, D-Randolph said, “I’m personally sick of it, I am absolutely sick of working with people who do not value me as a person. You don’t have to like me, you don’t have to agree with my politics, but I respect you as a person, you respect me and all other West Virginians of the LGBTQ community.”

In addition, Del. Mandt said proposing such a bill during Black History Month is a “disservice to those who legitimately fought to correct real discrimination.”

WV NAACP Representative, Katonya Hart said, “as an African American woman, I seek every day to have greater access to those things that allow me to be more apart of this society, why would we deny it from anyone else?”

Other bill supporters asked Del. Mandt to retract his words and sit down for an inclusive conversation.

“Will you please support the “Fairness Act” Delegate Mandt, will you allow all Mountaineers to be free? Freedom should not have any barriers, bounds or chains,” said Del. Danielle Walker, D-Monongalia.

This afternoon, Mandt responded to the community leaders’ statements. You can read the delegate’s full statement below:

I received another media request to respond to comments made by WV Democrat delegates on my continued opposition the dangerous Fairness Act. They demand that I no longer expose the Fairness Act for its perils when asked about it by the media. That’s the type of political grandstanding we should expect from the handful of progressive Democrats remaining in the House. They seek to silence opposition while simultaneously calling for unity.

I speak for my district’s constituents. I don’t speak for the House Leadership Team, in fact, questions about the Fairness Act’s unlikely viability should be directed to their excellent press office. But the Republican Party Platform clearly speaks an unwavering opposition to the Fairness Act and to all similar controversial bills. They ignore science, endanger women and girls, and exploit confused minors for financial gain. I am a Republican. I support our platform.

I’ll restate that I stand with gay-identifying West Virginians and the thousands of public ex-gays who speak out against the divisive Fairness Act. Here’s an excerpted comment from a West Virginia voter: (name redacted for her privacy and safety)

“I just wanted to let you know as a married lesbian, I 100% stand behind your opposition of this act.  The militant leftists have completely taken over the lgb [sic] community and it is truly a battle to destroy religion and elevate one group of people over another.  Just know that the conservative gay community stands behind you!”

Shouldn’t we be listening to all the voices in this debate. Just read the stern warning from a trans-identifying patient against the barbaric surgeries on minors, for financial gain, in today’s Feb. 9, 2021 Newsweek.com story. The Fairness Act protects this barbarism. 

So Republican Joshua Higginbotham, most in the Democrat caucus and the gay-identifying lobbying group known as Fairness West Virginia, are hyping this dangerous bill for the 10th year in a row. And I believe doing so in 2021 is giving a small percentage of our citizens a cruel false hope that it might pass. No one needs me to announce that If such a dangerous bill couldn’t become law in 83 years of Democrat control, it’s outrageous to propose that it would move with a Republican super majority.

And for the Republicans and Democrat voters who would prefer to avoid speaking out on human sexuality bills and would rather stick to the budget bills, the infrastructure bills, the economy bills, be aware…the Fairness Act is nothing but a sue and settle shakedown scheme that would hurtle West Virginia back towards the judicial hellhole rating that we only recently escaped. Claiming it’s necessary for more business is intentional misinformation. It would crush small business owners under false discrimination claims.

In response to the Democrat’s question if I’d like to change my position, and in keeping with the respectful acknowledgement of Black History Month, I’ll borrow these words: Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it. – Maya Angelou

WV Delegate John Mandt, R-Cabell

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