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On Valentine’s Day, the House Approves the ‘Women’s Bill of Rights’

On Valentine’s Day, the West Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill aimed at protecting girls and women from the transgender community. The Democratic minority in the House criticized the bill, deeming it an insult to women.

House Bill 5243, which establishes the Women’s Bill of Rights Act, received approval from the House with an 87-12 vote on Wednesday afternoon. The bill is now set to proceed to the state Senate.

Del. Diana Winzenreid, R-Ohio, was the sole Republican to vote against the bill. She cited concerns about its potential impact on Wheeling ordinances related to human rights and its potential effect on Wheeling City Council member Rosemary Ketchum, a Democratic candidate for mayor and the first transgender woman elected to public office in the state.

“I acted not as a partisan member of this body but as a citizen and representative of Wheeling,” Winzenreid stated. “The City of Wheeling has established a Human Rights Commission, which ensures equal opportunities for employment, access to accommodations, and housing for all residents and workers, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“Given that an affirmative vote could curtail the rights of an official elected by the residents of Wheeling, I could not support the bill,” Winzenreid continued.

The bill was scheduled for passage on Monday but was moved to the House’s inactive calendar by the House Rules Committee, composed of leaders from major House committees and the House Democratic caucus leadership. It remained there until the Rules Committee reinstated it to the active calendar before Wednesday’s floor session.

HB 5243, introduced with significant attention by Gov. Jim Justice and other lawmakers in late January, aims to establish a “Women’s Bill of Rights.” It achieves this by defining sex-based terms such as “woman,” “girl,” and “mother” in the State Code to specifically denote biological females, except in cases of developmental or genetic anomalies or accidents.

The bill mandates that a person’s biological sex is determined at birth and replaces references to “gender” with “sex.” It prohibits the use of terms like “gender identity” and other subjective language. Furthermore, it revises the definition of equality, clarifying that it does not imply “sameness” or “identity” in terms of gender equality.

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