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West Virginia State Lawmaker: Gays Today's Version of the KKK

by Kilian Melloy
Monday Feb 11, 2019

It seems someone in the West Virginia House of Delegates has his linens both mixed up and in a twist: Minister and state lawmaker Eric Porterfield told a reporter on Feb. 8 that America's LGBTQ community are the contemporary version of a certain cross-burning hate fraternity, reported local newspaper the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Porterfield's alleged comments to the reporter included a claim that "The LGBTQ is a modern-day version of the Ku Klux Klan."

The lawmaker was first elected last year after Delegate Marty Gearheart ran for a set on the U.S. House of Representatives rather than to retain his seat in state government. According to Wikipedia, Porterfield was inspired to run for office as a result of having a protective order issued against him after he targeting a local obstetrician because of her views on abortion rights. Moreover, Porterfield was against a state ban on inflicting so-called "conversion therapy," on minors.

If the notion of America's gays cutting eye holes in their high-thread-count bed sheets strikes you as ludicrous, hold on: There's plenty more where that came from.

As Raw Story reported, the lawmaker had, earlier in the week, prefaced his confabulation of the KKK and the LGBTQ community with inflammatory and homophobic statements on the floor of the state's house, all topped off with an F-bomb. (Not the four-letter kind, but rather the one that's specific to gay men.)

That expletive-bedecked tirade was, Raw Story, noted, part of Porterfield's denunciation of a proposed anti-discrimination bill that would have extended protections to the state's LGBTQs. Porterfield made the usual thin argument that such a bill would infringe on the religious rights of people wishing to discriminate against sexual minorities, but then he came up with a more novel — if puzzling — objection to the effect that the bill would have been in itself discriminatory toward LGBTQs, Raw Story reported.

All of that was wrapped up in a generalized claim that sexual minorities are also socialists — the latest all-purpose buzzword hurled by GOP politicians at their opposition.

Repeating his odd manner of referencing lesbians, gays, and other sexual minorities, Porterfield exclaimed on the floor of the House that, "The LGBTQ is the most socialist group in this country."

Porterfield then heaped this non-sequitur into his remarks:

"They do not protect gays. They are many gays they persecute if they do not line up with their social ideology."

Not everyone took kindly to being schooled on such gay- and racist-related arcana by someone whose political career was reportedly launched, in part, by the rejection of a state law intended to protect young people from psychological harm.

"I never thought I'd live to see the day where the gay community—a group that has incurred insane amounts of violence and discriminatory behavior—would be compared to the KKK—a hate group that has administered insane amounts of violence and discriminatory behavior," read an article covering Porterfield's comments published at African American media outlet The Root. "But if America has taught us anything, it's that where there's a delusional white man's will, there's a delusional white man's way. So here we are."

Even Porterfield's fellow state lawmakers took umbrage — at least, the Democratic ones. In a statement, the chair of the West Virginia Democratic Party, Belinda Biafore, called Porterfield out for his hate speech and called for him to resign.

"West Virginia has no room for someone who expresses such hate," Biafore's statement posited. "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."

As for what little the state's GOP lawmakers did have to say — well, that, too, followed a predictable pattern.

"That sounds like nothing I would certainly ever agree with, but I would want to talk to him before I comment on what he said," offered the House Speaker, Roger Hanshaw.

But there's still another twist: It seems that the same politician who found himself on the wrong end of a restraining order prior to being elected last year, and who followed up by hurling an anti-gay slur on the House floor, is also claiming to be the victim.

According to a Washington Times article, Porterfield declared himself to be someone who's now "persecuted" for his homophobic remarks, while "The LGBTQ" are, in his words, "terrorists."

"I am terrified of these people," Porterfield claimed, according to The Root.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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