West Virginia Del. Eric Porterfield (R) is in the national spotlight after making a series of homophobic comments comparing the LGBTQ community to the Ku Klux Klan, among other things.
Members of Porterfield’s own party condemned his remarks this week, however, Porterfield himself has scoffed at any suggestion his comments might warrant discipline.
Porterfield first made the discriminatory comments last week while opposing an amendment that would extend nondiscrimination protections to the LGBTQ community in West Virginia. He believed the original bill, which would void municipal protections for classes not protected at the state level (i.e. sexual orientation and gender identity), should pass without any changes.
In a floor speech, Porterfield then claimed LGBTQ people were “the most socialist group in the country” and did not deserve nondiscrimination protections because they “persecute” people who “do not line up with their social ideology.”
On Friday, he added that “the LGBTQ [sic] is a modern day version of the Ku Klux Klan,” and in an interview over the weekend, he appeared to imply that he would drown his own children if they were gay, saying he would “see if they could swim” if they ever came out to him.
Melody Potter, chairwoman of the West Virginia Republican Party, has since slammed Porterfield’s remarks, calling them “hateful” and “hurtful” and clarifying that they “do not reflect the values of our country, our state, and the Republican Party.”
“These comments are unacceptable, and we denounce them,” Potter said. “They have no place in America.”
Several other Republican lawmakers backed the denouncement. Mercer County Republican Chair Brenda Miller-Mann said Porterfield was “out of line” when he called the LGBTQ community “brutal monsters” and the “modern day KKK.”
“This is just wrong!” she told The Cumberland Times-News, adding the comments “do not reflect [the Republican Party’s] views and opinions.”
Porterfield met privately with state House Speaker Roger Hanshaw (R) on Monday, allegedly at his own request. Speaking to reporters afterward, he refused to answer questions about whether he had lost any of his committee assignments as discipline for his remarks. “I don’t know why I would be removed from any committee assignment,” he said. “What would be a reason I would be removed from a committee assignment?”
Hanshaw has not yet weighed in on the situation publicly and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Porterfield has since blamed state Democrats over the matter, claiming calls for his resignation had triggered a wave of retaliation against him.
“I think the West Virginia Democratic president should resign for inciting hate speech against me, my church,” Porterfield said of Democratic chair Belinda Biafore, who called on him to step down in a Facebook post last Friday. “I’ve got things I have to report to the capitol police. The LGBTQ [sic] are the most brutal, tyrannical group in our country. They’re the closest thing to political terrorism in our country, and they’re a modern day version of the Ku Klux Klan.”
Porterfield has insisted that the threats and ridicule he’s received since making his remarks, including a threat to burn down his church, “prove” the validity of his attacks on LGBTQ people. “You will see more hate from that group than from anyone,” he said this week. “They have to be in control and every time I say something, when I speak my view against them, they viciously, brutally attack me and use it for political fodder.”
He then once again compared the LGBTQ community to the KKK. “I am terrified of these people,” he said. “I am trying to overcome fear with faith.”