BECKLEY, W.Va. — The Beckley Common Council has made history tonight by becoming the 12th West Virginia city to protect citizens from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Fairness West Virginia thanks Council members Ann Worley, Tom Sopher, Tim Berry and Sherrie Hunter for their “yes” votes, and Mayor Rob Rappold who cannot vote on council but was outspoken in his support for the ordinance.
“We hope tonight’s vote shows people that hope is never lost,” said Fairness West Virginia Executive Director Andrew Schneider “Just over four years ago, Beckley Common Council voted unanimously to table a similar measure. This just goes to show cities like Parkersburg and Buckhannon, which have both voted down equality, that it’s never too late to do the right thing.
“It also shows our Legislature that support for nondiscrimination exists throughout the state, in liberal areas like Morgantown and more conservative towns like Beckley,” he said.
Beckley now joins Charleston, Huntington, Wheeling, Martinsburg, Shepherdstown, Charles Town, Harpers Ferry, Sutton, Thurmond, Lewisburg and Morgantown in protecting members of the LGBT community. Fairmont, Elkins, Buckhannon, and Athens have passed resolutions opposing such discrimination, but those measures lack force of law.
Fairness West Virginia has also introduced bills in the state Legislature to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s existing nondiscrimination law.
“We have a record number of sponsors on this legislation and we look forward to finally having a debate on this crucial issue,” Schneider said.
Schneider said that Beckley is yet another example of citizens speaking through their local elected leaders to demand protections for this vulnerable community.
“We have waited long enough for these basic protections. The time for the state to act is now,” Schneider said.