The recurring theme of bigotry and hate speech in U.S. politics has once again reared its ugly head, this time in West Virginia as a Republican in the state’s House of Delegates compared the LGBTQ community to the Ku Klux Klan and “joked” that he would drown his own children if they turned out to be gay.
The newly-elected Mercer County delegate, Eric Porterfield, volunteered the comments to a local reporter last week after complaining that he felt “persecuted” by gay rights groups after comments he made at a local meeting, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
The delegate has likened the gay community to a “terrorist group” for its opposition to his attempt to ban municipal non-discrimination ordinances that protect sexual orientation and institute gender identity discrimination.
“The LGBTQ is a modern-day version of the Ku Klux Klan, without wearing hoods, with their antics of hate,” Porterfield said in the interview, adding that his persecution had come in the form of social media messages and voice mails.
The blind, born-again politician who heads a self-professed “fundamental, independent Baptist mission organization” has been known for his right-wing views, but shocked voters just days prior when he blasted an anti-discrimination bill as “bigoted” and “discriminatory” toward heterosexuals.
The bill has since been killed.
Porterfield also implied in a weekend interview with local TV station WVVA that he would drown his children if they were to ever come out as gay:
“Well, I will address my daughter first … I would take her for a pedicure, I’d take her to get her nails done, and see if she could swim. If it was my son, I would probably take him hunting, I would take him fishing, then I’d see if he could swim.”
In a subsequent interview with NBC News, Porterfield clumsily attempted to clarify that his ire was directed toward “the LGBTQ – not homosexuals,” apparently confusing the acronym “LGBTQ” – which means lesbian, gay, bisesuxal, transgender, and queer/questioning – with an actual organization.
“[The LGBTQ] are socialist in nature, they exercise economic extortion, they terrorize and frighten people such as myself, even with a severe disability, with threats and intimidation,” he said.
Naturally, the preacher-politician’s hateful messaging was greeted not only by calls for his resignation from the WV Democratic Party, but also sharp condemnation from his own state Republican Party.
“These comments are unacceptable and we denounce them,” Republican Chairwoman Melody Potter said in a statement, stopping just short of calling for his resignation. “They have no place in America.”
Porterfield, for his part, claims that he is frightened of the public backlash he has received, claiming:
“I am terrified of these people … They represent a socialist activist agenda. They are opponents of freedom.”
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