South Charleston mayor says passage of LGBTQ ordinance sends out message

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens says discrimination will not be tolerated in the city and now there is an ordinance in place there that follows a U.S. Supreme Court’s decision.

Last Thursday, the South Charleston City Council approved a nondiscrimination ordinance protecting LGBTQ residents from discrimination. Mullens appeared on Monday’s MetroNews ‘Talkline’ to discuss the ordinance, which passed unanimously and without a discussion.

South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens

“We don’t want to discriminate against anybody or practice any discrimination when it comes to goods and services or housing, or anything like that,” he said.

“If you’re going to prejudice against someone because of the color of someone’s skin, religion or who they choose to be in a relationship with, that is mean. That is downright mean.”

Mullens said the city already had a policy in place but this was a tweak to mirror the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, where the Court ruled 6-3 that an employer who fired an employee for being gay or transgender violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

South Charleston is the 15th West Virginia city to adopt this kind of law, which protects LGBTQ residents from discrimination in employment, housing and public places. 580-WCHS previously reported the city is also the second municipality to adopt such a statute this year.

Mullens said it’s a step in the right direction and the work to eliminate discrimination must continue.

“I’m not naive enough to think we can legislate out prejudice at the end of the day. I think this sends out a message that we won’t tolerate it in our community,” he said.

He added that he wished the state would take the lead on a law but said “it didn’t seem like it was going to happen,” so the city acted. Kanawha and Jefferson counties are the only counties in West Virginia with more than one municipality with such protections.

Fairness West Virginia executive director Andrew Schneider previously stated last week upon the decision, “This is a huge win for the people of South Charleston, who took a big step today to tell the world that all people are protected from discrimination here.

“Charleston became the first city to adopt a local fairness law more than a decade ago, and now their neighbors in South Charleston have joined them in standing for fairness. South Charleston is truly someplace special for all.”