1/8/19 11:30 p.m. UPDATE:
A controversial ordinance is in the hands of Beckley City Council, whose first hearing drew hundreds inside the walls of the Beckley Raleigh County Convention Center on Tuesday night.
Fairness West Virginia board member, Danielle Stewart, and other supporters believe this a nod towards diversity without discrimination.
“This is a step forward economically that we can take that says, ‘We are more diverse than what you think,'” Stewart said. “We want everyone here and we want to be the future of Beckley.”
However, Family Policy Council of West Virginia president Allen Whitt says otherwise. He and others who oppose argue that it is addressing a nonexistent issue in Beckley.
“We don’t have any documented episodes of so-called discriminations against LGBT people,” Whitt said. “So there’s no need for it.”
The ordinance ended up passing with a narrow margin of 4-3.
“There was no need for this type of ordinance to be even considered,” Whitt said. “Many of the citizens are going to be disappointed.”
“I think the city council has done the right thing,” Stewart said. “If nothing else, we have two more weeks now to discuss this, get out facts instead of the fiction.”
The ordinance moves on to a second hearing, which is scheduled for January 22.
The city of Beckley had a meeting involving an ordinance that is sparking controversy throughout the community Tuesday night.
City Council moved forward with the first reading of an ordinance to protect two classes of people. The ordinance will add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity’ as protected classes when it comes to discrimination. City Attorney, William File, wrote the ordinance. He said this is crucial to making the LGBTQ community feel welcomed.
“We do not feel that if you are a member of one of these classes that should give cause to an employer to discriminate against you or housing. It should not prevent you from being able to rent an apartment or purchase a house from somebody,” File said. “We want people to come here feeling comfortable and we are certainly trying to be attractive to all people.”
If it passes, Beckley would become the 13th city in West Virginia to approve this kind of ordinance. While Mayor Rob Rappold has no vote in this ordinance, he said this is something that is catching on throughout the state.
“Talking to mayors from a number of those cities, it’s pretty much a non-issue,” Rappold said.
This ordinance does not include churches, church affiliated non-profits or private clubs. If council members vote in favor of the ordinance on Tuesday, January 8, they will have a second reading and public meeting on Tuesday, January 22, at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.