FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 11, 2015
SOUTHERN W.VA. TOWN SMALLEST IN U.S. TO PASS LGBT PROTECTIONS
CHARLESTON, WV – Fairness West Virginia (“Fairness WV”) is pleased to announce that Thurmond, WV 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.
“We’re proud that Thurmond is invested in being an inclusive community,” says Fairness WV Executive Director, Andrew Schneider. “It just goes to show that from the smallest town of Thurmond to the largest city of Charleston, the people of West Virginia understand that making our communities inclusive is critical to moving our state forward.”
Since 2009, Fairness WV has been working with communities across West Virginia to pass these types of ordinances. The Thurmond ordinance is stronger than current protections in the statewide Human Rights Act that currently does not extend protections to lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender (“LGBT”) West Virginians.
Despite efforts on behalf of LGBT allies in the West Virginia Legislature, proposed legislation to enumerate sexual orientation and gender identity to the state Human Rights Act have failed to pass both Chambers. A 2013 poll finds that 68% of West Virginians support banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Cities that want to demonstrate they are open and accepting of all people can benefit from the adoption of these policies,” says Schneider. “Inclusive nondiscrimination policies attract and retain talent, encourage top businesses to invest in communities and keep our talented young people from leaving the state. If West Virginia is truly serious about creating jobs and improving the state’s economy, then our lawmakers should seriously consider adopting statewide nondiscrimination protections for LGBT West Virginians.”
Charleston, Huntington, Morgantown, Athens, and Harpers Ferry all have adopted similar ordinances banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. For more information, visit www.fairnesswv.org