Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

West Virginia's Byrd and Rockefeller: Legislators of the Day

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | September 01, 2009 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics
Tags: employment discrimination, Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, Mollohan, Robert Byrd, Rockefeller, West Virginia

In West Virginia, quite a conservative state in many ways, two Democrats hold sway in the U.S. Senate: Robert Byrd, the oldest and longest-serving member of the Senate, and Jay Rockefeller IV, also a longtime Senator.


Rockefeller.jpgDespite the state's conservatism, and Byrd's stands against affirmative action and his Klan membership long ago, I believe both of these Senators could support ENDA.

They have not yet declared their positions, so please call them and ask for their support for S.1584.

Senator Robert Byrd

According to Wikipedia, Senator Robert Byrd renounced his Klan membership, which occurred in 1942 for one year, starting when he was 24. He said he had joined the Klan because he felt it offered excitement and was anti-communist. He said, in 2005, "I know now I was wrong. Intolerance had no place in America. I apologized a thousand times... and I don't mind apologizing over and over again. I can't erase what happened." Byrd also joined with other Southern and border state Democrats to filibuster the Civil Rights Act of 1964, personally filibustering the bill for 14 hours, a move he now says he regrets. Senator Byrd has changed greatly, as the nation has, during his half-century of tenure in the Senate.

In June, 2002, he voted YES on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes, reversing his June 2000 position.

Call him at 304-264-4626 to support S.1584 (click here for email).

Senator Jay Rockefeller IV

According to Wikipedia, Senator Jay Rockefeller was first elected to the Senate In 1984, though Republican Ronald Reagan won the state in the presidential election. To date, this has been the last competitive Senate race in West Virginia. Rockefeller was re-elected in 1990, 1996, 2002 and 2008 by substantial margins.

Senator Rockefeller has cosponsored a previous bill with sexual orientation and gender identity language, and he voted for the hate crimes bill.

Call him at 304-253-9704 to support S.1584 (click here for email)

The West Virginia delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives

West Virginia's story in the House is quite different. There are three representatives, two of whom previously voted against ENDA in 2007: Shelley Moore Capito and Nick J. Rahall II.

The third member of West Virginia's delegation, however, Alan B. Mollohan, voted in favor of ENDA in 2007, and voted yes on the hate crimes bill. Although he has not yet stated his position, he could support ENDA this year again.

Call Representative Mollohan at 304-292-3019 to support H.R.3017 in the House (click here for email).

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Don't give up on Rahall - he's fundamentally a decent guy, and he tries to do the right thing. He can be convinced, I think. I've lived in his district over half my life, and met him several times.

Rockerfeller I think is a safe bet to vote for ENDA, but I doubt Byrd's health will let him vote at all.

Capito is a lost cause.