UPDATE 2/16/12 @ 2:50 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- A West Virginia lawmaker has introduced a bill that would give gay and lesbian couples the same legal protections as heterosexual married couples.
Del. John Doyle says he introduced the bill Thursday to start a conversation about family equality. The Jefferson County Democrat says that gay and lesbian couples should have the same safety net to deal with the death of a parent or the loss of a job as married couples.
Fairness WV, which advocates on behalf of the gay, lesbian and transgender community, says this is the first time a civil union bill has been introduced in the West Virginia Legislature.
Doyle also sponsored a bill that would prohibit workplace and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation. That bill has not advanced since it was introduced.
The Valentine's Day rally included an attempt by at least one gay and one lesbian couple to apply for marriage licenses.
"It's a day about love," said Justin Murdock of Huntington.
He and his partner, William Glavaris, were one of the couples applying for a marriage license.
The demonstrators supporting gay marriage were met by counter-protesters, a group from the Mount Olive Independent Fundamental Baptist Church of Hurricane.
"It bothers me terribly that it's going on in the country," Pastor Ernie Spence told WSAZ.com. "When it comes this close to home, it's time that we need to take a stand for it."
The gay and lesbian couples were turned away from applying for a marriage license at the clerk's office.