CHARLESTON - A bill introduced in the West Virginia Senate would make it unlawful for employers and landlords to discriminate against individuals based on their sexual orientation.
Senate President Jeff Kessler, the sponsor, introduced similar bills in 2008, 2009 and 2010. The bills passed the Senate each year but stalled in the House of Delegates.
The West Virginia Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in employment and housing based on race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, blindness or disability.
Kessler said Monday that not having a non-discrimination act for gays and lesbians creates a "poor national image of our state" and "makes us a lot less attractive to folks who want to live here, work here and become gainfully employed here."
The bill is scheduled to be discussed in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. Kessler said he isn't sure what support the bill will get during this year's session.
"People should not be fearful of losing their job or being evicted from their house, not based on the quality of their work or if they pay their rent on time, but because of who they love at night," Kessler said.
He said allowing some West Virginians to be prevented from having a job or to have a fair selection of housing because of their sexual orientation "is a type of mentality that holds us down."