CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As the nation focused on U.S. Supreme Court arguments on same-sex marriage, local legislators were trying to breath life into an anti-discrimination measure in the state House of Delegates.
House Bill 2856, which would prevent employers, landlords or others from discriminating against a person because of his or her sexual orientation, must be approved by a committee today or it dies.
It's currently legal to fire or evict someone based on their sexual orientation.
Hours before any possible vote, committee Chairman Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha, said there wasn't enough support to pass the bill.
"I don't know. Haven't seen too many people change their views on this issue over the last four weeks, so I'm guessing over the last few hours here you won't see too many people change their position," Skaff said Tuesday afternoon.
Delegate Stephen Skinner, D-Jefferson, sponsored the bill. Skinner — the state's first openly gay delegate - realizes some of his colleagues are dragging their feet on the measure.
"There's the overarching issue of the hesitation of some legislators to be willing to vote for what they know is right," Skinner said.
"The ripple effect of that is any important piece of legislation that has social implications is different than any other piece of legislation."
The measure has languished in the House Energy, Industry & Labor/ Economic Development & Small Business committee since March 7. Today is the final time the committee will meet to discuss House bills this session: if the group doesn't take up the measure this afternoon, it dies.
Although it wasn't listed on the committee agenda as of late Tuesday, Skinner wasn't worried.
"I know there are a lot of people saying a lot of things and rumors are flying around. Its fate has yet to be decided," he said.
The vote was always going to be close, Skaff said, but the last thing he wanted to do was put the bill up for a vote only to see it defeated.
Earlier in the session, he was optimistic the committee had the votes needed to pass the bill. After canvassing and polling, he wasn't so sure.