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Petition against Fairmont Human Rights Commission ordinance succeeds

By JOHN MARK SHAVER

The Fairmont News

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — After two months of going door to door and holding signing events, the Keep Fairmont Safe group now has all 1,979 signatures needed on a petition against the city’s Human Rights Commission ordinance.

According to a certificate sent by the city to Keep Fairmont Safe, 333 of 584 new signatures were validated, adding to the previously validated 1,675 signatures.

At least 15 percent of Fairmont’s registered voters during last year’s general election had to sign the petition for it to be successful.

The original petition was filed soon after the Sept. 12 Fairmont City Council meeting, at which the Human Rights Commission ordinance was passed.

Although the ordinance had many supporters, others in the community took issue with how the ordinance was written, disagreeing with the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes.

Kandi Nuzum, who filed the petition, said the ordinance should have gone to a public vote.

“I don’t know that we want to get rid of a human rights ordinance,” Nuzum said. “Just write it in a way that’s not open-ended where it can be misinterpreted. … It doesn’t even tell you in there, in my understanding, what kind of discrimination (there is). It’s just too open, and they were never willing sit down and discuss how to rewrite it. …

“All we would have liked is for someone to sit down with us and go over the ordinance and see those areas that we think would open up discrimination to other people. Number one would be traditional Christians.”

Since the required signatures have been obtained, the ordinance will be brought back before council. Council can choose to repeal the ordinance, but if it’s passed again, it will go to a public vote in the November 2018 general election.

Staff writer John Mark Shaver can be reached at 304-844-8485 or [email protected].

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