In December, news broke about an anti-gay harassment case at Massey Energy. A West Virginia man, Sam Hall, complained of anti-gay harassment over a five year span. He experienced verbal abuse and lewd gestures from coworkers and supervisors alike.
Now Hall is urging lawmakers to approve a measure that would provide discrimination protections to LGBT people in West Virginia.
"If the labor laws would have been amended earlier to contain sexual orientation discrimination, myself as well as other gay West Virginians would have not to endure such demeaning and inexcusable behavior," Hall said at a press conference. "Why, as West Virginians, do you allow this type of behavior and harassment to occur and then go unpunished?"
Supporters - including Acting Senate President Jeff Kessler and Delegate Barbara Fleischauer - chanted "Stand with Sam" at the aforementioned press conference. Kessler is a chief sponsor of a measure that would add sexual orientation to the state discrimination laws.
Unsurprisingly, there is opposition. I mean, hey, what is a discrimination law without a few nutjobs? The West Virginia Family Foundation denounced the Senate bill. The called a House version "catastrophic."
"What we have witnessed here today is a brazen and open promotion of the deviant behavior and lifestyle of homosexuality by elected leaders," West Virginia Family Foundation President Kevin McCoy said in a statement. "These bills will require acceptance of homosexuality to be taught in West Virginia's public schools."
The Bill in question (SB226, HB2045) would make it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations. Let's work together to get this bill passed!
Gay and lesbian people suffer discrimination in all walks of life - from housing to employment and everything in between. This issue has become a hot topic for West Virginia because of the Sam Hall lawsuit against Massey Energy. To think that Sam Hall is the only homosexual who has suffered harassment in the state would be foolish. Many West Virginians need your help. They need to be protected.
I urge you to vote in favor of human rights in West Virginia and approve SB226/HB2045.