WV bill would protect gender identity and sexual orientation under civil rights

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The West Virginia Senate introduced a bill Friday morning that would amend the state’s ‘Human Rights Act’ and ‘Fair Housing Act’ by adding the categories of gender identity and sexual orientation for protection.

Senate Bill 254 falls under the proposed ‘Fairness Act’, which would create anti-discrimination laws for all West Virginians.

Right now, discrimination based on race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, age and blindness or disability is banned under current state law.

Bills like this have been previously introduced in previous years, but this is the first time a bill like this has made it this far, landing on the committee agenda.

Bill Lead Sponsor, State Sen. Stephen Baldwin, D-Greenbrier said, “Golden rule, treat others the way you want to be treated and I believe West Virginians live by that and that’s all this bill does.”

The bill has bipartisan support – in fact, it has more republican support than democratic in terms of lawmakers on board.

State Sen. Ryan Weld, R-Brooke said, “I think the message is that West Virginia is an inclusive state and anybody who wants to come back and be apart of West Virginia’s comeback, all are welcome.”

However, West Virginia Delegate John Mandt, R-Cabell, recently posted his opposition to the ‘Fairness Act’ on social media saying “there is nothing fair about it, it’s nothing more than a wrongful appropriation of the civil rights movement to force a behavioral pattern into a legally protected class.”

The bill has now been sent to the judiciary committee since it oversees civil rights issues.

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