West Virginia Delegate Unapologetic, Doubles Down on Anti-LGBTQ Remarks

CHARLESTON — Since first making remarks last week using a derogatory term for gay and lesbian people, a Mercer County delegate has escalated his comments, drawing a rebuke from the state Republican Party and possible punishment by the House of Delegates.

Delegate Eric Porterfield, R-Mercer, told reporters Monday after a private meeting with House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, said he wasn’t sorry for remarks he made during a House Government Organization Committee meeting Wednesday.

During that meeting, Porterfield called the LGBTQ community a “socialist” group, and used an inappropriate word used to demean lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender individuals. During television news interviews Friday and Sunday, he compared members of the LGBTQ community to the Ku Klux Klan. He stood by those comments Monday.

“I don’t only not regret them … the LGBTQ are the most brutal tyrannical group in our country,” Porterfield said. “They’re the closest thing to political terrorism in our country.”

During an interview on WVVA-TV in Bluefield Sunday, Porterfield was asked what his reaction would be if his young son or daughter came out as gay to him when they are teens.

“I would take her for a pedicure, I’d take her to get her nails done, and see if she could swim,” Porterfield said. “If it was my son, I’d probably take him hunting, I’d take him fishing, and I would see if he could swim.”

Since making those comments, the West Virginia Republican Party released a statement condemning the words from Porterfield.

“In recent days, Delegate Eric Porterfield has made comments that are hateful, hurtful, and do not reflect the values of our country, our state, and the Republican Party,” said Melody Potter, chairwoman of the West Virginia Republican Party. “These comments are unacceptable, and we denounce them. They have no place in America.”

Porterfield said he had not yet seen the statement from Potter, but said it was inappropriate for the party to comment before talking to him.

“I have to look at what the denouncement is,” Porterfield said. “I’m sure anyone from the party has not heard the allegations and remarks and the threats from the brutal monsters known as the LGBTQ. They are the closest thing to the Ku Klux Klan in the modern day.”

Porterfield would not comment on whether he was removed from any committees or facing any other punishment from house leaders. Hanshaw was not available for comment after the meeting with Porterfield and press were asked to leave his office by house staff. But sources close to Hanshaw said there will be actions taken against Porterfield.

“Why would I be removed from any committee assignment,” Porterfield asked. “What would be the reason I would be removed from a committee assignment?”

Earlier during the house floor session Monday, a motion was made to revive a bill that would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to the Human Rights Act. The motion failed 57-40.

The Senate Finance Committee rejected a motion from state Sen. Bob Beach, D-Monongalia, for the committee to immediately consider Senate Bill 391, which would add sexual orientation to the list of protected classes for housing and employment non-discrimination, though state Sen. Greg Boso, R-Nicholas, asked for the committee to consider the bill next week.

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