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Clergy pack Capitol to support non-discrimination bill

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More than 70 clergy members and religious leaders from throughout West Virginia joined Fairness West Virginia March 19 in a display of support for House Bill 2856, the Employment and Housing Non-Discrimination Act at the state Capitol.

Fairness West Virginia, the statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights advocacy organization, has sponsored phone banks throughout the state and had its own day at the Legislature March 5 to urge support of the bill.

House Bill 2856 would add sexual orientation to the Human Rights Act that already includes race, religion, disability and sex. It has two House of Delegates committee assignments, and it has not yet been discussed in the first, where it was assigned March 7.

"This is really an issue about compassion and justice," West Virginia Council of Churches Executive Director Jeffrey Allen said. "Whatever a person's sexual orientation, they have the right to work and live where they choose without fear of retribution for being who they are."

The local clergy in attendance, including the Rev. Shauna Hyde, the Rev. Joseph Allen Hill and the Rev. Kay Alright, presented a letter of support on behalf of 72 religious leaders to the members of the West Virginia Legislature. Those leaders came from several denominations, including Baptist, Presbyterian, Jewish, Episcopal, Evangelical Lutheran, Quaker and Catholic.

Fairness West Virginia has amassed a list of more than 200 local businesses, community organizations and clergy in support of House Bill 2856, according to its news release.