Keyser becomes 14th city in state to pass Fairness Act
By Liz Beavers
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - The Keyser City Council quickly garnered some attention across the state Wednesday as they adopted the West Virginia Fairness Act, making Keyser the 14th city in West Virginia to adopt such an ordinance.
The non-discrimination ordinance makes it unlawful for anyone in the city limits to discriminate against anyone based upon “real or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, marital status, familial status or veteran status.”
According to the document, “The council’s purpose in enacting this ordinance is to promote the public health and welfare of all persons who live and work in the City of Keyser. It is important for the city to ensure that all persons within the city have equal access to employment, housing, and public accommodations.”
The ordinance was originally introduced at the council’s Nov. 18 meeting, and a first reading held in December. It was passed unanimously Wednesday and went into effect immediately.
Fairness West Virginia, a statewide civil rights advocacy organization dedicated to civil rights for the LGBTQ community, issued a press release shortly after the meeting praising the City of Keyser for taking the action.
“This is a huge win for the people of Keyser,” said Andrew Schneider, Fairness West Virginia’s executive director. “Keyser’s leaders stepped up tonight to protect their LGBTQ friends and neighbors, but more than that, they’re showing the world how accepting their community is.
“Our state still has no statewide law that protects LGBTQ people from discrimination,” he continued. “That means landlords can evict gay tenants and businesses can refuse to serve them with no consequences. Until our leaders pass the Fairness Act, it’s up to cities like Keyser to protect their community.”
Schneider said he hopes that state and federal lawmakers will follow Keyser’s example.
"In times like this, we need all of our leaders to stand up for what's right," he said. "I hope that our U.S. Senators, Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, see the growing consensus among West Virginians as a sign they should support the Equality Act at the federal law. This proposal, which mirrors the Fairness Act, would provide enduring protections for LGBTQ people across the country. We need Sens. Manchin and Capito to help us finish the work to ensure all Mountaineers can live free from discrimination."