Republican-Controlled Senate in West Virginia Overwhelmingly Rejects Anti-LGBT Religious Exemption Bill

By Adam Polaski • March 2, 2016 • 5:40 pm

Big news! Today in West Virginia, the state Senate overwhelmingly voted to reject HB4012, which would have codified discrimination by allowing any business or individual to cite their religious beliefs as an excuse for denying services to other West Virginians. The bill was strongly opposed by LGBT organizations (led by Fairness West Virginia), women’s groups, and by other religious minorities.


Early on this legislative session, West Virginia’s House Majority Whip John O’Neal eliminated any confusion as to the bill’s intention when he told the Christian Broadcasting Network that the bill “doesn’t guarantee anyone’s right to have any particular kind of lifestyle or behavior protected, but it guarantees the free exercise of religion … that freedom has been severely curtailed in recent years with the growth of gay rights.”

The bill’s demise today is an affirmation of the thousands who have taken action in West Virginia to send a message that there is no place in state law to allow for broad, rampant discrimination targeted at LGBT individuals.

Over the past several weeks, an unprecedented number of businesses in West Virginia have taken a stand against anti-LGBT discrimination. Many businesses large and small in the state took action and visually communicated their support for treating all people equally with colorful stickers.

Freedom for All Americans applauds Fairness WV – and all of the organizations, businesses, and individuals who took a stand against discrimination – on this important win.

Freedom for All Americans Executive Director Matt McTighe said today:

The defeat of HB 4012 today is a huge win for fairness and equality in West Virginia. Just a few weeks ago, this bill seemed to have a clear pathway forward; but many of the state’s leading businesses and residents spoke due to the hard work of local advocates and organizations like Fairness West Virginia, and legislators were moved to do the right thing. Republican legislators value religious freedom just as all Americans do, but it’s clear that this bill was an unnecessary and harmful overreach. Discrimination has no place in West Virginia’s law.

Watch the moment of victory below:

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