Supporters turn out for proposed nondiscrimination act

The President of Fairness West Virginia’s Board of Directors says he thinks this year is the year for the Employment and Housing Nondiscrimination Act.

“It’s not asking for special rights, it’s asking for the same opportunities as everyone else in the State of West Virginia to find a job and keep a job or to find housing and keep a home,” Coy Flowers said.

On Tuesday, he was part of a rally at the State Capitol to support the Act which is again being proposed at the Legislature this year.  The speakers at the event included Senate President Jeff Kessler and Secretary of State Natalie Tennant.

The Employment and Housing Nondiscrimination Act would update an existing law by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the Human Rights Act that already includes race, creed, disability and sex.

That means discrimination based on sexual orientation would be against the law when it comes to employment, housing and public accommodations

Flowers says it’s a needed addition.

“Was it important for us to spell out in the Human Rights Act that women shouldn’t be discriminated against?  Was it important for us to spell out in the Human Rights Act that disabled people shouldn’t be discriminated against?  It’s the same thing,” he said.

The bill has been proposed for several years.  This year it has been tweaked to include exemptions for churches or affiliated corporations and small businesses, defined as those with 12 or fewer employees.

Because of those changes, Flowers says the proposal is facing less opposition.

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