Democrats in the Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday staged a walkout to protest a Republican-invited pastor’s attacks on same-sex marriage and abortion.
State Del. Michael Webert (R-Fauquier County) invited Rev. Robert Grant, Jr., a senior pastor at The Father’s Way church in Warrenton, to deliver the opening prayer before lawmakers recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
However, the usually nonpolitical observance turned sharply critical when Grant described abortion clinics in African American communities as “planned urban genocide” and the “Biblical tradition of marriage” where a “man and a woman should be fruitful and multiply.”
At this point, outraged voices can be clearly heard throughout the chamber with one Democratic delegate calling out, “Is this a prayer or a sermon?”
House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax County) abruptly banged her gavel to end Grant’s remarks and begin the pledge, but not before several House Democrats had left in protest.
Despite Webert’s invitation, Fauquier Now reported some Republican delegates also stated the pastor’s tone was inappropriate for an opening prayer.
State Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) responded to Grant’s comments on Twitter.
“I walked out so early during the lecture,” Roem tweeted. “And it was a lecture, not an invocation -— I didn’t even find out about the homophobic rant until later.”
“If you want to enter the House to help unify us, by all means,” she continued. “If you enter to condemn us, start by looking in the mirror.”