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Supporters of Human Rights Commission come together in Fairmont

By KAITLYN NEFF

Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT, W.Va.  — Supporters of the Fairmont Human Rights Commission along with Marion County for Progress gathered on Sunday in front of the Marion County Courthouse to celebrate the ordinance’s passage with a march around the city of Fairmont.

A group gathered in support of the Fairmont Human Rights Commission at the Marion County Courthouse Sunday and marched in support of the recently-passed Human Rights Ordinance.
(Times West Virginian photo by Kaitlyn Neff)

According to a Marion County for Progress press release, the community was invited “to celebrate World Communion

Day and the ordinance’s passage with a march in recognition of shared humanity and support for a positive dialogue through the new Fairmont Human Rights Commission, and put an end to political strife which only benefits a handful of distant elites.”

More than 100 people gathered in support, including those of the Fairmont community, but also those from outside of Marion County. With their scripted signs and banners held high, the group marched around the city of Fairmont chanting for equality.

“We gather today in unity, not disunity,” Reverend D.D. Meighen said to the crowd. “We gather to un-label people, not to label them. We gather for a human rights commission, not a human rights ommission… We meet here as another example to support and encourage human rights.”

Supporters were encouraged to attend and express their views whether they be in support of the ordinance or another issue.

“We have had a lot of support and a lot of people who want to participate and share their feelings of affirmation, like people who are disabled, veterans, those who cross ethnic lines and lifestyle lines, but the main issue is in support of the Fairmont Human Rights Commission, and what we want to try to bring forth, which is a healthier and more inclusive community that we can build trust and hope and economic development on,” Meighen said.

Meighen said that they decided to schedule the march for late afternoon in respect of those who might want to attend church services, and he mentioned how they were tying this march in with World Communion Day.

“World Communion Day is a day where churches and faith groups throughout the world celebrate their oneness in unity by taking holy communion,” Meighen said. “We thought it was an appropriate day since the human rights commission is to bring us into unity where there is division.”

Many Fairmont city officials, including councilman Philip Mason and Mayor Thomas Mainella, as well as other members of the community, spoke at the march in front of the courthouse in support of the event.

“We have come this far with this thing, and we are all just hoping it doesn’t get bamboozled into something that it isn’t,” Mainella said. “Hopefully the truth will prevail with this issue. It’s a human rights commission and anti-discrimination measure. The turnout is good, and it looks like they are inspired and behind it.”

The march was not the only event on Sunday regarding the Fairmont Human Rights Commission. Supporters of Keep Fairmont Safe hosted a petition signing at V&W Electrical Sales and Supplies.

“We had a good turnout, and I felt it went really well,” Keep Fairmont Safe supporter Candice Nuzum said. “The petition is to have the council vote again, and if they vote yes, then it will go to a ballot for the people. That’s what we want. We want the people to vote.”

Nuzum said the group was not in support of the ordinance due to how it is written. She said that they feel that the ordinance is very vague and leaves too many areas open to cause problems for other people, such as Christians.

To read the Human Rights Ordinance, visit the Fairmont City Council’s website.

Email Kaitlyn Neff at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @kneffTWV.

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