In February, coal miner Sam Hall recounted that, because of his sexual orientation, he received threats, vandalism, and a litany of verbal mistreatment while working at Massey Energy Co. — all of which is okay in West Virginia because sexual discrimination is not outlined in its anti-discrimination law. West Virginia’s existing civil rights law protects against race, religion and disability discrimination, but a sexual discrimination provision has never been able to pass the House.
This legislative year, two bills meant to protect against sexual discrimination were proposed in West Virginia, but ultimately failed to be taken up in their relevant committees in time for the legislation to pass. So the legal harassment of the LGBT community will continue for at least another year. The bill’s failure comes as a major blow to Fairness West Virginia President Stephen Skinner, who has an online petition to push West Virginia lawmakers to protect the LGBT community. But it is a win for the West Virginia Family Foundation (WVFF), which publicly stated that the bills promote “deviant behavior.”
WVFF’s crusade against equality and civil rights isn’t new. In 2009, WVFF released a video in support of a state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages that depicted a heterosexual family with crosshairs over it, while saying that traditional marriage “is under an unrelenting attack“:
In response to the failure to protect against sexual discrimination, West Virginia Delegate Meshea Poore (D) sponsored a bill to toughen anti-bullying policies. The House Education Committee ultimately did not take up Poore’s bill, which would have outlined bullying as that grounded on race, religion, disability, and sexual orientation. Not surprisingly, WCFF opposed Poore’s bill also.