West Virginia City Passes LGBTQ Rights Ordinance

By Teo Armus and Associated Press

The city of Morgantown, West Virginia, has added protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents to a human rights ordinance.

The seven-member City Council voted unanimously to expand the city’s anti-discrimination language as part of a complete overhaul of its human rights commission. Morgantown is now the 11th city in the state to pass a local ordinance protecting LGBTQ people.

The change prohibits discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. West Virginia lacks a statewide LGBTQ non-discrimination law.

Morgantown Mayor Bill Kawecki said the move “simply verbalized the kind of community I really hope that we are.” Kawecki said about 45 people spoke in support of the ordinance Tuesday and about three spoke against it. He said two were from out of town.

Billy Wolfe, a communications specialist at LGBTQ advocacy group Fairness West Virginia, told NBC News his organization finds this series of events promising.

“We think that this momentum on the local level sends a message to our state lawmakers that West Virginia is more than ready to add gender identity and sexual orientation to its state nondiscrimination law,” Wolfe said.