Lewisburg mayor holds roundtable discussion on federal Equality Act
LEWISBURG, W.V. (LOOTPRESS) – Wednesday afternoon, Lewisburg Mayor Beverly White held a roundtable discussion with the mayors of cities who have passed nondiscrimination ordinances for LGTBQ+ protections.
The meeting focused on the passage of the Equality Act, a pending legislation that will expand federal civil rights laws to protect LGBTQ citizens from discrimination in employment, housing, credit issuance, jury service, and federally funded programs.
Wednesday’s participants discussed how Congress has the opportunity to extend protection to people beyond individual city limits and how these protections are important to recruiting and keeping businesses and people in West Virginia.
While the West Virginia Legislature has not passed a statewide equality act, 15 municipalities of the state have passed nondiscrimination ordinances. These cities include Athens, Beckley, Charles Town, Charleston, Harpers Ferry, Huntington, Keyser, Lewisburg, Martinsburg, Shepherdstown, South Charleston, Sutton, Thurmond and Wheeling.
The meeting was moderated by Rachel Coffman of Coffman Collaborative- West Virginia’s largest strategic governmental affairs firm in industrial, economic, development, regulatory and manufacturing public policy- and attended virtually by Jim Auxer, Mayor of Shepherdstown, and a representative of Mayor Goodwin of Charleston.
Coffman has worked closely with Mayor White to brainstorm how to encourage other cities in this state to pass their own nondiscrimination acts.
During the meeting, Mayor White said she didn’t know why the legislators have yet to pass a nondiscrimination act, stating that, in her opinion, doing so would benefit the entire state. Those who participated also showed their support for legislative action.
“Until we welcome everyone, we will always be shooting ourselves in the foot,” she said. “We have got to do better with being diverse and inclusive. We cannot continue in this country this way. What difference does it make how someone wears their hair? I want to know what’s in their brain. I want to know what they bring to the table.”
“To not be inclusive would be counterproductive,” added Mayor Auxer, who shared that inclusion can greatly widen the employment pool thereby boosting city economics.
The hour-long meeting between municipalities ended with participants agreeing that the state would benefit from the federal passage of the Equality Act.
“It’s about doing the right thing,” said Mayor White. “It’s about love, and people can’t love others unless they love themselves. We just need to make sure our children are taken care of and that we are teaching them to be successful in the world. As long as I am in this seat, the people of Lewisburg and on the council will know that they are safe here. We are inclusive and welcome them with open arms.”