City council adopts resolution to include sexual orientation, disabilities in hate crime legislation


Ryan Fischer

Dr. Kat Williams, Associate Professor of American History at Marshall University, voices her concerns about LGBTQ equality at the Huntington City Council Meeting, February 8, 2016.

Huntington City Council passed a resolution encouraging West Virginia Legislature to include perceived or actual sexual orientation, gender identity and disabilities in hate crime legislation during Monday’s meeting.

Mayor Steve Williams said he hoped the resolution would encourage the state legislature to amend the code §61-6-21.

“In essence we’re encouraging our local delegation and this will be delivered to the local delegation,” Steve Williams said. “Also to the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate to encourage them to consider hate crime legislation and encourage sexual orientation and gender identity in that hate crime legislation.”

Councilwoman Rebecca Thacker proposed the amendment to include disabilities.

“We need protection, too.” Thacker said. “As there are hate crimes that go on against disability all the time and I’d like to see Huntington come up ahead and say, ‘We like everybody.’”

Marshall professor, Kat Williams said she was proud to live in a city that sees fit to protect her rights.

“I am proud to be a part of this community and want only the best for its future and the future of this state,” Kat Williams said. “I want the talented students I teach every semester to stay here.”

Kat Williams urged council members to adopt the resolution to set an example.

“The City of Huntington is second to none in this state when it comes to this and so many other issues,” Kat Williams said. “We must step up and lead. I urge you to, please, accept this resolution, move forward and show the rest of this state what an inclusive city we are and exactly the way to grow and prosper is through diversity.”

Huntington citizen, Tom McCallister said a different approach needed to be taken.

“This has been asked by the legislation on three occasions that I know of,” McCallister said. “What do you think your chances are this time?”

Both the resolution and the amendment were approved unanimously.

An ordinance approving a tentative agreement between the City of Huntington and the F.O.P. Goldstar Lodge #65 concerning the accrual of compensatory time was approved unanimously.

Another ordinance approving a tentative agreement between the City of Huntington and Local 598, Council 77, American Federation of State, county and municipal employees and AFL-CIO, concerning non-economic benefits was also approved unanimously.

Three ordinances regarding weapons, explosives and indoor shooting ranges were moved to a second reading.

Rory L. Perry, Brian D. Byrd and Patricia Proctor were all re-appointed for their third terms with the Huntington Board of Zoning Appeals.

During the good and welfare portion of the council meeting, Ohio citizen Terri Ann Smith asked why Councilwoman Thacker had not sponsored an ordinance or resolution since last May.

“That begs the question, why hasn’t Rebecca been asked to sponsor [an ordinance or resolution]?” Smith said.

Council Chairman Mark Bates said asking to be a sponsor was between councilwoman Thacker and the administration.

Smith said she believes Thacker has requested to be a sponsor but has not been picked.

Bates said this could go back a complaint filed by Thacker to the West Virginia Ethics Commission.

“Well, you know, it might go back—if you want to delve into this—it might go back to some ethics questions that were raised,” Bates said. “There were six members of this body that had their ethics raised by Ms. Thacker, which we were cleared of and the mayor, which the mayor was cleared of.”

Clara Maynard can be contacted at [email protected].