FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Citizens of a local activist group opposing the new language in the City of Fairmont’s month-old Human Rights Commission Ordinance will file a petition Wednesday morning to force a city-wide referendum.
They are also collecting signatures to recall the seven Council members who voted for ordinance 482, re-establishing a Human Rights Commission in Fairmont.
Keep Fairmont Safe, a group made up of concerned citizens, is described on their Facebook page as a “committee of concerned citizens attempting to require the city of Fairmont, West Virginia to repeal a recent ordinance that will force some businesses to allow males access to intimate spaces reserved for women like gym showers.”
The group, according to West Virginia Family Policy Council Executive Director Allen Whitt, will turn in a petition that includes 2,500 names. Whitt, who’s group has offered advice and consultation to Keep Fairmont Safe, said the threshold for a successful petition is 1,985 valid, registered voters in the city limits of Fairmont, West Virginia.
The City Clerk must determine if the petition meets the requirements of 1,985 of qualified voters in the city.
Whitt claims Keep Fairmont Safe’s petition will force Council to vote again on the Human Rights Commission Ordinance. The ordinance, which passed with updated language last month by a 7-2 margin, would then go to a city-wide referendum if Council chose to pass it again. He additional claims he has conducted unofficial polling that shows city voters would reject the referendum by a 62-38 margin, though it’s unclear where the polling is coming from or how it was conducted.
Keep Fairmont Safe has argued that the Human Rights Commission, by creating a new protected class in Fairmont, allows for city-wide language that would permit men claiming transgendered status to enter into locker rooms, bathrooms, showers, and other “public accommodations” specified for women.
The City Council of Fairmont and pro-LGBTQ advocacy organization Fairness West Virginia have denied these claims in the past.
Whitt said a political action like this is the first of its kind in West Virginia. Recall petitions would likely target Marianne Moran (District 1), Deputy Mayor Frank Yann (District 2), Robert Linger (District 3), Dora Grubb (District 6), Philip Mason (District 7), Mayor Thomas Mainella (District 8), and Ronald J. Straight (District 9).
Moran, Linger, Mainella, and Straight are serving terms expiring next year. Yann, Grubb, and Mason are serving terms expiring 2020.
There is no time limit for gathering the 2,600 signatures needed for petitions to force a recall of City Council members.