In an historic moment, both Democrat and Republican lawmakers have joined together in voicing their support for LGBT nondiscrimination in a bipartisan video produced by Fairness West Virginia, the statewide LGBT advocacy organization.
The video is called “LGBT Nondiscrimination Is A Nonpartisan Issue: Hear From Legislators In Their Own Words” and showcases members of the West Virginia Legislature including Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael and Senate Minority Leader Jeffrey V. Kessler, Senate Judiciary Chairman Charlie S. Trump, House Minority Leader Timothy Miley, and Delegate Saira Blair, the state’s youngest legislator, as well as five other lawmakers.
“Fairness West Virginia is excited to showcase that leaders and the next generation of leaders from both parties are unequivocally speaking out in favor of nondiscrimination for all West Virginians including LGBT Mountaineers,” says Andrew Schneider, executive director of Fairness West Virginia. “This video demonstrates that it is no longer politically advantageous for members of either party to support discrimination of any kind.”
As West Virginia faces a budget shortfall of over $350 million, leaders from both parties are looking for solutions that are pro-business. As demonstrated by the LGBT-inclusive employment policies of 96 percent of Fortune 500 companies, it’s clear that LGBT nondiscrimination is good for business.
“Our goal is to have the most educated, motivated citizens that we can find here in West Virginia and in order to do that is we need to make sure that we include everyone regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity,” Saira Blair, the youngest legislator in West Virginia history.
There is, however, a concerted effort by The Family Policy Council, an outside lobbying group, to disguise discrimination against the LGBT community in West Virginia in the name of religious freedom. “The idea that religious freedom and nondiscrimination are in conflict is simply not true,” says Schneider. “We hear time and time again from West Virginians that personal religious conviction is in fact one of the strongest foundations for supporting LGBT nondiscrimination.”
Senator Ron Miller, a southern baptist minister, states in the video, “Everybody should be treated the same I don’t care the color of your skin, or your creed or background, everyone should be treated alike. From a theological standpoint, that’s what my faith is about – mercy for all, not just for people like me, but for everyone.”