A West Virginia Republican compared LGBTQ people to the Ku Klux Klan in an interview that has led to calls for his resignation.
Speaking with the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Delegate Eric Porterfield discussed his use of “faggot” during an anti-gay rant at a committee meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 6.
Porterfield had championed legislation at the meeting that would have legalized discrimination against LGBTQ people, and called LGBTQ people “the most socialist group in this country.”
“They do not protect gays,” he continued. “There are many gays they persecute if they do not line up with their social ideology.”
Porterfield’s comments drew condemnation from other politicians, but rather than clarify or apologize for his remarks, the Republican instead continued his rhetoric in the Gazette-Mail interview.
“The LGBTQ is a modern day version of the Ku Klux Klan, without wearing hoods with their antics of hate,” Porterfield said.
He also called the gay community a “terrorist group” and said he had been “persecuted” by the LGBTQ community over his bigoted comments at the committee meeting.
Republican House Speaker Roger Hanshaw said Porterfield’s comments were something he “would certainly never agree with.”
“I hope that no one would make those kind of statements,” he said. “That sounds like nothing I would certainly ever agree with, but I would want to talk to him before I comment on what he said.”
Asked about removing Porterfield from committee assignments, Hanshaw responded: “We’re not going to have a repeat of what happened last week, let’s leave it at that.”
While the Gazette-Mail reports that some Republicans were unwilling to comment on Porterfield’s remarks, others were forthcoming in their condemnation of his words.
“He’s wrong, very wrong,” said Del. Daniel Linville (R-Cabell). “There’s just no excuse though for some of the things that he said.”
Del. John Mandt (R-Cabell) called Porterfield a “great guy,” but noted that he shouldn’t have made the comments.
“When we talk, and when we say things, we need to represent our caucus, instead of putting us, our caucus, out on a limb,” Mandt said. “[Porterfield] is a great guy, I just would prefer that we don’t put people down if they do something that you don’t personally believe in.”
Democrats called for Porterfield to resign, with West Virginia Democratic Party chairwoman Belinda Biafore saying in a statement that there was “no room” in the state for someone like Porterfield.
“West Virginia has no room for someone who expresses such hate, let alone room for him to hold a public office where he is supposed to represent the people of West Virginia,” she said. “His hate-filled remarks and actions speak volumes, and so does the Republican Party’s silence.”
Loudest among those condemning Porterfield was Del. Danielle Walker, (D-Monongalia), whose son is gay.
She directly addressed Porterfield’s “faggot” comments at the Feb. 6 meeting during a speech in the House of Delegates on Feb. 7.
“Why do we need more hate?” Walker said. “Why do we need more name-calling? Why do we need to reference other groups that illustrated so much hate and destruction and ugliness. Why do we need to do that?”