FAIRMONT, W. Va. (WDTV) -- Fairmont City Council voted late Tuesday night, in favor of an ordinance that re-establishes the Human Rights Commission. Two council members voted against the ordinance.
This vote came after more than three hours of a public comment period, with dozens speaking both for and against the ordinance.
The ordinance includes non-discrimination language, and adds that people cannot be discriminated against because of "race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, blindness or handicap."
The categories of sexual orientation and gender identity are new language to the city's ordinance.
Some who spoke in favor of passing the ordinance say this will help stop discrimination in the housing community.
"This is an important ordinance for Fairmont because establishing a Human Rights Commission will go a long way for bringing the community together to treat everyone fairly and equally and basically fight against instances of discrimination that exist," said Andrew Schneider, executive director of Fairness West Virginia.
Many who spoke against it did so for religious reasons, saying religious organizations should not have to change their beliefs because of this wording.
"Also, it says gender identity. So therefore, what would stop a man from entering the ladies' room? There are men, that maybe, would go in there and just do their business and leave but there may be some men that have an ulterior motive," said Fairmont resident Karen Ford.
5 News caught up with Fairmont mayor Thomas Mainella after the vote, who said this wasn't a bathroom issue, but rather, one about discrimination.
"I think we did the right thing. I know it was a very passionate, emotional issue for a lot of people. I do sincerely think there was a lot being read into this that's really not there. That's what I based by vote on. I don't think it was a bathroom bill. I think it's a discrimination unfairness bill," he said.
While most of the meeting was calm despite all the opinions, one man, Allen Whitt, executive director of the Family Policy Council, was thrown out of the meeting after being ruled "out of order." You can see his interaction with council, and him being escorted out of the meeting, in the web exclusive video attached to this article.