A West Virginia politician is defending his comments in which he called the LGBTQ community “the modern day version of the Ku Klux Klan,” amid his own party denouncing his comments and Democrats calling for his resignation.
Republican Del. Eric Porterfield made the comments to a reporter on Friday, while discussing a separate report about the response of Democrats to his remarks that an anti-LGBT-discrimination amendment was a form of bigotry and intolerance, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reports.
He said the community is similar to the white supremacist hate group, “without wearing hoods with their antics of hate.” He also added that he saw the LGBTQ community as a “terrorist group” and accused them of persecuting him for his remarks through threatening Facebook posts and voicemails.
And on Monday, he backed up those comments in an interview with NBC-affiliate WVVA.
“They’re the most evil-spreading and hate-filled group in this country,” he said. “They’re the closest thing to political terrorism in America, no question about it. If they do not get their way, they attack people, they attack their businesses, they make it hard on people.”
The controversy began last Wednesday, when Porterfield spoke at a House Government Organization Committee in support of an amendment that would have prohibited municipalities within the state from adopting non-discrimination ordinances protecting sexual orientation and gender identity. The amendment, which would have allowed the state to eliminate anti-discrimination ordinances, was eventually killed in committee.
West Virginia state law does not protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in housing, employment and other areas.
“This is discrimination against the First Amendment and religious liberty, and the LGBT is the most socialist group and they don’t protect gays,” he said. “There are many gays they persecute if they do not line up with their social ideology.
Del. Danielle Walker, who has a gay son, challenged Porterfield both in the committee and this past Thursday on the House floor.
She told the Gazette-Mail on Friday, “Why do we need more hate? 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?”
Belinda Biafore, Democratic chairwoman for the state, issued a statement on Friday seeking Porterfield’s ousting from the House of Delegates, saying the state has “no room for someone who expresses such hate.”
Some Republicans also spoke out against Porterfield’s comments.
Del. Daniel Linville called the comments “very wrong.”
“There’s just no excuse though for some of the things that he said,” Linville said.
Del. John Mandt took a different approach, saying Porterfield is a member of the party and that he should be careful with what he says.
“When we talk, and when we say things, we need to represent our caucus, instead of putting us, our caucus, out on a limb,” he told the Gazette-Mail. “He 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.”
GOP chairwoman Melody Potter said the comments don’t reflect “the values of our country, our state, and the Republican Party,” but made no comment with regards to calls for his resignation or ousting.
Porterfield said he has contacted police in response to the threats he’s received.
—With files from The Associated Press