Resources for Advocates
If you’re interested in advocating for the Fairness Act, here is a collection of resources that will help you get started.
Active Action Alerts
Advocacy Training Webinar
Our next webinar will be held at 1 p.m. on Jan. 18. Sign up to attend it here.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Why is this bill needed?
Right now, under West Virginia state law, there are no measures that protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in the workplace, in access to housing and in public spaces like restaurants, shops and government buildings. There are thousands of LGBTQ people living and working in West Virginia, but despite growing public awareness, they still face disproportionate rates of discrimination, harassment and violence in all areas of life. Fortunately, West Virginia can do something about this by passing legislation to affirm the dignity of LGBTQ Mountaineers and ensure they are protected from discrimination.
Why do conservatives support nondiscrimination?
A strong majority of conservatives — here in West Virginia and across the country – support nondiscrimination laws that protect LGBTQ people not just because these laws are a genuine reflection of their conservative values, but because doing so makes our country stronger. America is a land of opportunity and freedom, where people who work hard and meet their responsibilities have the chance to get ahead. Everyone deserves the freedom to achieve the American Dream, including LGBTQ people.
Why do people of faith support nondiscrimination?
People of faith understand the importance of the Golden Rule. Treating others as we would want to be treated involves ensuring that all West Virginians are protected equally. We are all God’s children and we all deserve to go about our daily lives without the fear of discrimination.
Does this bill threaten religious freedom?
Freedom of religion is important to all of us, including LGBTQ people. It’s one of our nation’s fundamental values. That’s why it’s already protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution, and nothing in this law will change that. LGBTQ people are our friends, neighbors, family, and coworkers. Protecting them from discrimination is about treating others as we want to be treated.
Why do businesses support nondiscrimination?
Business leaders across the nation agree: Discrimination is bad for business. Today’s top job creators seek states and communities that are welcoming to everyone, including their families, employees and customers. Additionally, businesses that operate in multiple states under the current patchwork of protections across only 20 states can struggle when there’s a lack of consistency and clarity in the law.
To attract talented workers, spur entrepreneurial innovation, recruit investment, and build a thriving travel and tourism industry, every state needs to welcome all people and treat everyone fairly. It’s time for West Virginia to update our nondiscrimination protections to include all workers and ensure that West Virginia is seen as a great place to do business.
How do the pending Title VII cases before the Supreme Court affect West Virginia/ this bill?
Right now, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering three cases regarding employment discrimination against LGBTQ people and could strip LGBTQ workers of existing federal employment nondiscrimination protections. But no matter how the Supreme Court rules, our work will not be done. Federal law doesn’t currently prohibit sex discrimination (and therefore not yet sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination) in critical areas, such as in public places like restaurants, stores, hotels, or federally-funded programs. That’s why states like West Virginia, and Congress must pass a bill that ensures express and enduring protections for all LGBTQ people, in all areas of life.
Will this bill put women at risk in women’s restrooms?
We all care about safety, including transgender people, who need to use the restroom just like everyone else. Harassment is already illegal under West Virginia law, and the good news is that updating our nondiscrimination protections absolutely keeps that in place. Anyone who enters a bathroom to do harm and harass others can and should be held accountable. Laws like the Fairness Act are on the books in 20 states, where there have been no uptick in related crimes.
How prevalent is discrimination, really?
The harsh reality is that nearly two-thirds of LGBTQ Americans have reporterd experiencing discrimination in their everyday lives, including on the job – and the number of unreported incidents is likely much higher.
Half of all transgender people have been harassed by someone at their work, and, when asked to present identification, nearly one in five transgender people are refused service because of their gender markers
A recent study from the Williams Institute tells us that West Virginia actually has the highest percentage of transgender youth of any state in the country. It’s important that all of our state’s young people feel safe and supported.
The legislature rejected a similar bill last session, why would this year be any different?
Last year, we made progress in building bipartisan support for our legislation to protect freedom and opportunity for LGBTQ Mountaineers and their families. Earlier this year, Senate Majority Leader Tom Takubo was the lead sponsor of the Fairness Act in the Senate. He was the only Republican legislative leader in the country to sponsor a nondiscrimination bill.
We’ve been working hard over the last year to have conversations with folks from all across the state about what it means to be LGBTQ, and why comprehensive nondiscrimination protections are so important. We’re building bipartisan support among people of all political perspectives, businesses big and small, and people of faith. Momentum is growing for this legislation, and we’re confident that we’re in a strong position to capitalize on last year’s historic progress to advance this bill this year.