By Liz Beavers
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER – Keyser City Council quickly caught the attention of the state on Wednesday when it passed the West Virginia Fairness Act. This made Keyser the 14th city in West Virginia to pass such an ordinance.
The Non-Discrimination Ordinance makes it illegal for anyone in the city limits to discriminate against someone on the basis of “actual or perceived race, skin color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, marital status, marital status” or veteran status. “
The document states: “In adopting this ordinance, it is the duty of the Council to promote the public health and well-being of all those who live and work in the town of Keyser. It is important for the city to ensure that everyone in the city has equal access to employment, housing and public housing. “
The regulation was originally presented at the Council meeting on November 18 and held in December at first reading. It was passed unanimously on Wednesday and came into force immediately.
Fairness West Virginia, a nationwide civil rights organization that campaigns for civil rights for the LGBTQ community, issued a press release shortly after the meeting commending the city of Keyser for its actions.
“This is a great win for the people of Keyser,” said Andrew Schneider, executive director of Fairness West Virginia. “Keyser leaders came up tonight to protect their LGBTQ friends and neighbors, but beyond that, they’re showing the world how accepted their community is.
“Our state still doesn’t have a nationwide law protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination,” he continued. “That means landlords can evict gay tenants and companies can refuse to serve them without consequences. Until our leaders pass the Fairness Act, it is up to cities like Keyser to protect their communities. “
Schneider hopes federal and state lawmakers will follow Keyser’s example.
“In times like these, we all need our leaders to stand up for what is right,” he said. “I hope that our US Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito see the growing consensus among Western Virgins as a sign that they should support the Equality Act in federal law. This proposal, which reflects the Fairness Act, would provide permanent protection for LGBTQ- People all over the country. We need Sens. Manchin and Capito to quit the job and make sure all mountaineers can live free from discrimination. “