WV lawmakers let LGBTQ equality bills die without a hearing

CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) – The West Virginia legislature lets LGBTQ equality bills die without a hearing.

According to Fairness West Virginia, republican leaders in the West Virginia Legislature have once again caved to anti-gay extremists who have worked tirelessly to block a vote on the Fairness Act, a bill to ensure no LGBTQ person is discriminated against

These leaders refused to even bring this bipartisan bill up for discussion in committee despite an unprecedented level of grassroots support and an early commitment from Senate President Mitch Carmichael to have a “substantive” discussion about fairness.

“The people of West Virginia are tired of waiting for these leaders to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination,” said Andrew Schneider, executive director of Fairness West Virginia. “Our community has asked for these basic protections for decades, and our leaders keep telling us no. No person should be fired, evicted or denied service in a public space because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Period.”

Wednesday was the final day to pass a bill out of one chamber in order for it to be considered in the other chamber. Neither the House of Delegates or the state Senate allowed a vote on the Fairness Act.

Lawmakers also failed to adopt Angel’s Law, a bill named for the 2017 victim of an anti-LGBTQ hate crime. Angel Harless, a lesbian, was harassed with homophobic slurs then beaten unconscious with a beer bottle outside of a Charleston bar. Angel’s Law would add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under the existing hate crimes law.

Angel’s Law would also stress restorative justice, which allows a judge to sentence a perpetrator to work within the community they have wronged in lieu of additional jail time.

“The facts are clear: LGBTQ people are the most likely group to be the targets of hate crimes,” Schneider said. “Hate crimes don’t just affect the victim, but also instill fear in the entire LGBTQ community.”

Angel’s Law and the Youth Mental Health Protection Act both died Wednesday.

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