Athens Becomes 13th W.Va. Municipality To Protect Employment, Housing Rights For LGBTQ Community
The town of Athens, in Mercer County, West Virginia has become the thirteenth municipality in the state to adopt a non-discrimination ordinace to protect employment and housing rights based on sexual orientation orientation or gender identity.
Members of the town council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve the measure.
Councilwoman Rachel Porter explained what the vote means for her community.
“I think it really shows the type of town that Athens is — and that it wants to be accepting of all people.”
Fairness West Virginia, a non-profit advocacy group calling on equal rights for the gay and transgender community, applauded the passage of the ordinance.
“The people of Athens are stepping up to make sure their LGBTQ friends and neighbors can’t be fired or evicted just because of who they are or who they love,” Fairness West Virginia executive director Andrew Schneider said.
Athens approving the non-discrimination ordinance comes a year after Del. Eric Porterfield — a state lawmaker whose district includes the southern West Virginia town — made remarks that called LGBT groups terrorists and likened members of that community to the Ku Klux Klan.
A bill that would impose a statewide ban on discrimination against the LGBT community has been introduced West Virginia Legislature, but lawmakers have yet to take up the bill in committee.
“This is a huge win for our community. The lawmakers in Charleston should realize that if a small town in the heart of Del. Porterfield’s district is ready for fairness, the rest of the state is, too," Schneider said.
In a news release, Fairness West Virginia said -- with the addition of Athens approving the non-discrimination ordinance -- 12% of the state's population is protected by such legislation.