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West Virginia Has Smallest Town With LGBT Rights Law

West Virginia Has Smallest Town With LGBT Rights Law

A tiny town in West Virginia this week became the smallest in the nation with an LGBT-inclusive civil rights ordinance.

The Town Council of Thurmond, W.Va., population five, Monday night voted unanimously to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, The Washington Post reports. The ordinance applies to employment, housing, and public accommodations.

The ordinance is similar to one enacted in Charleston, the state’s capital and largest city. “The big message was just, from the smallest town to the biggest town, West Virginians believe in equality,” council member Tighe Bullock told the Post. Huntington, Morgantown, Athens, and Harpers Ferry also have such ordinances,

West Virginia has no statewide law banning anti-LGBT discrimination. Fairness West Virginia executive director Andrew Schneider, who worked with Thurmond’s council on the ordinance, thinks municipal actions will influence state lawmakers. “The fact that there’s this growing number of communities taking this step to bring fully inclusive nondiscrimination policies back home is a message to the rest of the state,” he told the Post. “This is important for moving the state forward.” His group is working on ordinances in other towns, such as Elkins and Beckley.

Thurmond is a close-knit community where most residents are related by blood or marriage, and all are active in municipal government — three are on the council, one is mayor, and one is town recorder. It was once a railroad town with many coal trains running through, and John Sayles’s 1987 movie Matewan, about a miners’ strike, was filmed there. The town, situated on the New River, is now a popular destination for outdoor sports enthusiasts, who come in for hiking, mountain-biking, fishing, and boating.

Until now, Vicco, Ky., with a little over 300 residents, was believed to be the smallest municipality in the U.S. with an LGBT-inclusive civil rights ordinance.
 

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