CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sen. Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, gave an impassioned speech Monday in support of legislation to add sexual orientation to the state's anti-discrimination laws.
"It is time to recognize once and for all in West Virginia that, clearly, all men and all women are created equal," Kessler, acting Senate president and a candidate in the gubernatorial special election, said during a rally outside of Senate chambers.
"These are individuals who are who they are," Kessler said. "They have no more ability to change their orientation than they do the color of their skin."
Kessler said he believes it is wrong to discriminate against people based on their race, gender, age, "or the God they love, or the person they love."
Afterward, he said the bill's fate probably lies with the House of Delegates, where similar legislation died in 2008 and 2009.
"We've sent it over twice, and they've killed it," he said. "We'd like some reasonable indication they'll take it up."
In 2008, the bill advanced to the full House, but was pulled off the active calendar by the House Rules Committee at the end of the session. In 2009, the bill died in House Judiciary Committee.
Sponsored by Fairness West Virginia, Monday's rally drew more than 100 supporters, who frequently chanted, "Stand with Sam" in recognition of Sam Hall, a gay ex-miner who is suing a Massey Energy subsidiary for workplace sexual harassment.