CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A civilized society defines itself by the manner in which it treats its people, animals and environment.
As many great social justice leaders have said, the way we treat those with the least power says volumes about who we really are. Spiritual teachers from all faiths advocate compassion and fairness toward one another. And even though we call ourselves a democracy and a religious community, we must show compassion and fairness to all or what we say is not so. By the courage and integrity of these convictions, we call upon the West Virginia Legislature to make it so by passing the Employment and Housing Non-Discrimination Act.
The act puts us to the test: Who are we, West Virginia? Are we the state that stayed with the Union because we wanted Mountaineers of every color and race to be free? Are we a state that prides itself on its devotion to God and the principles of loving thy neighbor, helping the poor and showing compassion?
In answer, the West Virginia Mountain Party in its last State Executive Committee meeting decided to stand with Fairness WV and our party platform which states: "All persons should have the rights and opportunity to benefit equally from the resources afforded us by society and the environment. We must consciously confront in ourselves, our organizations, and society at large, barriers such as racism and class oppression, sexism and homophobia, ageism and disability, which act to deny fair treatment and equal justice under the law." (See mtparty.org)
The Employment and Housing Non-Discrimination Act would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Human Rights Act that already includes race, creed, disability and sex. The needed legislation would be a common sense update to exiting law. I say needed because unfortunately in nearly all of West Virginia, hardworking decent people can be fired or kicked out of their homes because of whom they love.
The Mountain Party believes that all West Virginians deserve to be treated fairly by the laws of their own state regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Mountain Party invites Larry Puccio, Democratic Party chairman and Conrad Lucas, Republican Party chairman, the Libertarian, Socialist, Constitutionalist and Independent parties and voters in West Virginia to join us in moving West Virginia closer to fairness by urging the West Virginia Legislature to pass the Employment and Housing Non-Discrimination Act.
Pritt is chairwoman of the West Virginia Mountain Party.