Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Non-Discrimination Act in Employment, Housing Is Overdue

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Non-Discrimination Act in Employment, Housing Is Overdue

Article excerpt

Equal Marriage came to the Mountain State on Oct. 9, 2014. Equal marriage came to the United States of America on June 26, 2015. All well and good, now the big question is whether the West Virginia Legislature will pass the Employment and Housing Non-Discrimination Act. Passage of this bill would add sexual orientation and gender identity or expression to the existing Human Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act, which currently includes race, creed, disability and sex. Why does this matter?

A couple of years ago, the Williams Institute, a national think tank at the UCLA School of Law, found that there are over 25,000 LGBT workers in this state. All of these workers could be legally fired or evicted simply because of their sexual orientation or their perceived orientation. That's right, an employer or landlord could evict or fire you if they just think you are gay. There are probably many more, lots of people are afraid to say that they are gay, and for good reason.

In fact, 25 countries and territories now allow equal marriage, but 75 nations treat homosexual behavior as a crime.

The cities of Charleston, Morgantown, Harpers Ferry, Buckhannon and Huntington, have amended their Human Rights acts to include sexual orientation and gender identity, as have the state's two flagship universities. The City of Elkins has passed a local ordinance which bars the city from discriminating against hiring people based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The cities had to do this because the state has failed to do its job, and because the federal government has failed to do its job to protect all citizens.

On July 23, U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley, Tammy Baldwin and Cory Booker, and Representatives David Cicilline and John Lewis introduced a bill that would protect all citizens by amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include LGBT citizens. The passage of this bill would mean we would all be protected. The passage of this bill is unlikely due to the current House makeup.

Despite living in a democratic republic, where all people are "equal, there are thousands of people who cannot be openly gay. …

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