CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The West Virginia Democratic Party is responding to comments from Delegate John Mandt, Jr. (R) regarding his opposition to the Fairness Act.
The legislation, sponsored by Delegate Joshua Higginbotham (R) along with Fairness West Virginia, proposes more equality in the state for the LGBTQ+ community.
In a post on his official Facebook page, Mandt called the bill “discriminatory” and claimed it took away businesses’ decisions regarding hiring and firing processes.
Mandt’s statement begins: “We live in difficult and divided times, and although the first amendment protects our freedom of speech, it is still each citizen’s responsibility, and especially the responsibility of those of us who claim Christianity, to guard what we say to not unnecessarily offend others.I’ve tried to do that, but at moments, as we all have, I’ve let my guard down in private conversation and typed words that trigger progressives into instigating cancel culture.”
You can read the delegate’s full statement here.
Chairwoman of the WVDP Belinda Biafore said, “Delegate John Mandt has a history of bigoted comments and hate toward the LGBTQ community and he must be held accountable. His ‘statement’ on his Facebook page and his behavior toward the LGBTQ community is disturbing and dangerous. Hate has no place in our Statehouse and until we expel this type of behavior, people in West Virginia will continue to face discrimination and be denied equal rights and protections. We must continue to fight against this type of hate so that West Virginia can truly be a place where every person is free and protected.”
According to Fairness West Virginia, the Fairness Act seeks to add gender identity and sexual orientation to the Mountain State’s Human Rights Acts and the Fair Housing Act. Doing so would ensure people in the LGBTQ+ community could not be evicted, fired or denied services due to their gender identity or sexual orientation.
WVDP Vice-Chair Rod Snyder said, “Delegate John Mandt already resigned once over his bigoted and hateful rhetorice toward the LGBTQ community, and yesterday he released a public statement that doubles down on his ignorance. In a Facebook post, he endorsed the idea that employers should legally be allowed to fire someone simply because of their sexuality. His words are not only deeply harmful to LGBTQ people, they also send the wrong message about our state. The vast majority of West Virginians oppose discrimination of any kind, and it’s time for our laws to reflect the decency of our citizens rather than the bigotry of individual lawmakers like Delegate Mandt. We urge the Legislature to pass the Fairness Act to ensure equal rights and protections for LGBTQ West Virginians and to send an important signal that all are welcome in our state.”
Fairness West Virginia also says the bill is specific to businesses and landlords. It would not apply to any house of worship or curb religious leaders’ free speech.
WOWK reporter Haley Kosik will have more details about the Fairness Act coming up this evening on 13 News.