The Morgantown City Council unanimously approved a resolution in support of the Employment and Housing Non-Discrimination Act in the West Virginia Legislature and a resolution in support of marriage equality in the West Virginia Legislature.
The two resolutions were of large public interest; dozens of people unable to go inside the chamber due to seat limitations.
More than 20 people, including West Virginia University students and faculty and representatives from various organizations, took a stand and expressed their support for the resolutions without opposition.
A letter by David Fryson, chief diversity officer at WVU, expressed the University’s support of the resolutions and its openness to equality.
“I don’t think any words I was going to say could come close to what I heard this evening,” said Mike Fike, city council member from the sixth ward. “I think my question is, how can we not vote for it? I can’t see any logic that would say that we couldn’t pass these resolutions.”
Before voting on marriage equality, Ron Bane, council member from the first ward, said the voting in support of marriage equality does not mean that the council members exclude Morgantown citizens who may disagree.
“I want to make sure that those people in Morgantown that have their own views (understand) that they are not being excluded by this council by passing it, because they are allowed to have their views, whether (they) disagree with it or not,” Bane said.
“The only thing I didn’t like about some of the statements was that some of you said their statements were shortsighted and ugly. This council is to represent everybody in the city of Morgantown. In my 14 years of sitting in this chair, this is the toughest (issue).”
Rachel Lake, who spoke up during the meeting, said the decision was significant, but the issues have a long way to go.
“I grew up in West Virginia, so there are a lot of us who don’t have the same rights as everybody else, and it kind of sucks. It’s one of the biggest reasons why we leave,” she said. “If they pass these and this goes up to the next level, it would mean the world to a lot of people.
“You can put policies in place, but it is people following the policies and enforcing them that really is the ticket, so if it’s legal and not socially accepted, it’s not going to matter.”
The council also declared 2014 as the year of community sports in Morgantown and discussed a Capital Escrow Fund Adjustment during the meeting.
The next city council meeting will be held Feb. 18. For more information on the City Council, visit http://morgantownwv.gov.