A Republican member of the West Virginia House of Delegates created uproar among both Democratic and Republican colleagues earlier this month when he compared the LGBT community to the Ku Klux Klan.
“The LGBTQ (sic) is a modern-day version of the Ku Klux Klan, without wearing hoods with their antics of hate,” state Del. Eric Porterfield said in an interview on Feb. 8, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
The newspaper said he also called the gay community a “terrorist group” and claimed he’s being “persecuted” by the LGBT community through threats on Facebook in retaliation for his remarks.
A staunch conservative, Baptist missionary and strong supporter of President Trump, Porterfield, 44, won election to his state legislative seat in 2018 in Mercer County near the Virginia and Kentucky borders. He became the state’s second known blind person to serve in the legislature.
The Gazette-Mail reports that Porterfield referred to the LGBT community in a derogatory way in a House committee meeting on Feb. 6 when he expressed support for an amendment that would have repealed LGBT nondiscrimination laws passed in local jurisdictions in the state. The amendment was defeated in committee.
“The LGBT is the most socialist group in this country,” the Gazette-Mail quoted him as saying. “They do not protect gays. There are many gays they persecute if they do not line up with their social ideology,” the paper quoted him as saying.
Among his most vocal critics is state Del. Danielle Walker (D-Monongalia) who challenged his anti-LGBT comments in committee and later on the House floor.
“Why do we need more hate?” the Gazette-Mail quoted her as saying, noting that she is a black woman who has a gay son. “Why do we need more name-calling? Why do we need to reference other groups that illustrated so much hate and destruction and ugliness?”
Andrew Schneider, executive director of the statewide LGBT rights group Fairness West Virginia, called Porterfield’s comments “despicable” and said they show the need for the LGBT rights protections that he opposes.
“We’re glad to see that the Republican Party has distanced itself from these remarks, but actions speak louder than words,” said Schneider, who noted that nine other Republicans voted with Porterfield in favor of the failed amendment seeking to take away LGBT rights.
“The only way to erase the stain that Porterfield has left on the state is for the Senate to take up SB 391 and extend nondiscrimination protections to all West Virginians now,” he said, referring to an LGBT rights bill pending in the West Virginia legislature. “We’ve waited long enough for these rights.”