CHARLESTON, W.Va. — For the third time, the State House has failed to take up the bills outlawing housing and employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, despite heavy support in the State Senate.
During the legislative session that ended earlier this month, committees in both the House and Senate never took up bills (SB226, HB2045) to add sexual orientation to the state’s civil-rights laws, which now include characteristics such as race, religion and disability.
Acting Senate president and gubernatorial candidate Jeff Kessler sponsored this year’s legislation, but said he did not push the bill in the Senate because the House had indicated that it would not pass it.
“It sort of baffles me that they’re not willing to take it up,” the Marshall County Democrat said, noting that the House is more liberal than the Senate on some issues, such as organized labor.
The State Senate passed the bills in both 2008 and 2009, in fact the 2008 vote was unanimous.
But despite a Democrat controlled House, the 2nd body has yet give the bills any favor. Reports are indicating that even though most of the Democrats in the house are in favor of the bills, they’re still worried about a political backlash.
I wonder if anyone has told them that the majority of the country is now supporting full marriage equality, and only backward states like West Virginia and Utah are still squabbling over these smaller civil protections.