Sen. Jay Rockefeller co-sponsors Employment Non-Discrimination A - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Sen. Jay Rockefeller co-sponsors Employment Non-Discrimination Act

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A bill that couldn't quite pass the West Virginia Legislature this year is about to make an appearance in Congress.

U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., will become the 52nd co-sponsor of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, which will ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

According to Fairness West Virginia, 61 percent of West Virginians have indicated that they are in favor of providing that protection for lesbian and gay workers, and they cited a 2010 Greenberg Quinlan poll.

It is currently legal in West Virginia for someone to be fired or denied housing because of their sexual orientation, and 21 states currently ban that type of discrimination.

"The fact that discrimination is tolerated anywhere in our country needs to be addressed once and for all," Rockefeller said in a prepared statement. "The integrity of our nation, and our ability to be a credible global leader on human rights, means that all people must be treated equally under the law."

According to Fairness West Virginia, Rockefeller becoming the 52nd co-sponsor of ENDA leaves only four Democrats yet to come out in support of this legislation including West Virginia's Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

"Rockefeller's co-sponsorship validates the work of Fairness West Virginia and our mission to advocate for the fair treatment of the more than 57,000 (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) West Virginians who call the Mountain State Home," Fairness West Virginia Executive Director Casey Willits said in a news release. "His leadership on this means a lot of LGBT West Virginians in particular since there is no state law to protect against workplace discrimination."