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West Virginia House panel advances bill to nullify local LGBT protections

West Virginia House panel advances bill to nullify local LGBT protections

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A West Virginia House committee on Wednesday advanced a bill that would nullify local nondiscrimination ordinances that critics said amounted to “legislative gay bashing.”

West Virginia state capitol in Charleston.
West Virginia state capitol in Charleston.

House Bill 2881, called the West Virginia Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act, passed out of committee by a vote of 16-8, reports the Charleston Daily Mail.

The bill aims to prohibit local municipalities from adopting nondiscrimination ordinances that don’t comport with state law, which currently offers no protections on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Critics say the bill serves no other purpose than to suppress the rights of LGBT people.

“The only group this targets are gay people,” said Delegate Stephen Skinner, D-Jefferson, the state’s first openly gay lawmaker. “This is bad for business and sends a terrible signal to the world. I don’t know what a business like Procter and Gamble would think of the homophobia flowing out of the Capitol.”

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“It’s an atrocious bill and it’s legislative gay bashing,” Skinner said. “The idea a Legislature would want to overturn the ordinances in places like Morgantown and Charleston where the will of the people has already been expressed is extraordinary.”

The bill would nullify LGBT non-discrimination ordinances already enacted in Charleston, Huntington, Morgantown, Buckhannon and Thurmond.

The West Virginia measure is nearly identical to one passed in the Arkansas legislature last week, and which became law without the governor’s signature when he refused to sign or veto the bill.

The bill now heads to the full House, where a public hearing is scheduled for Friday morning.

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