Eric Porterfield, a state lawmaker in West Virginia, is facing backlash after a string of homophobic comments, including calling the LGBTQ community “a terrorist group.”
The comments began last week during a committee meeting regarding a potential amendment to the West Virginia constitution that would prevent local municipalities like counties and cities from enacting their out anti-discrimination protections. This bill would potentially strip away non-discrimination ordinances already in place in some counties and cities within the state.
During the debate, Porterfield, a Republican from Mercer County, allegedly used an anti-gay slur. After the meeting, Porterfield took his anti-gay remarks further, telling NBC News, “The LGBTQ—not homosexuals, but the LGBTQ [community]—is the closest thing to political terrorism in America.” It appears that Porterfield might actually think that “The LGBTQ” is an actual group as opposed to an acronym used by the queer community.
Porterfield repeated similar comments to many different news outlets. He told Bluefield Stations WVVA that if his child came out to him as gay he would, “see if he can swim,” an apparent reference to drowning. He also told the Charleston Gazette-Mail that, “The LGBTQ [sic] is a modern-day version of the Ku Klux Klan, without wearing hoods with their antics of hate.”
The West Virginia Democratic Party is now calling for Porterfield’s resignation. WVDP Chairwoman Belinda Biafore said in a statement, “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. His hate-filled remarks and actions speak volumes and so does the Republican Party’s silence. The Republican majority’s leadership needs to condemn these actions. Their silence is complicit, and the people of West Virginia deserve better.”
Porterfield is also facing some criticism from within his own party. The Mercer County Commissioner said in a Facebook post, “As a Commissioner within Mercer County, I do not condone, nor accept this behavior of anyone, let alone an elected official. Likewise, this form of antics in representation of my county is not inclusive to the people within.”