The LGBTQ rights movement has made significant progress in recent decades, but every once in a while, something happens to remind America just how much progress still needs to be made. The most recent example came from West Virginia, where a state lawmaker compared the LGBTQ community to the Ku Klux Klan.
Republican state Delegate Eric Porterfield made this particular comment on Friday while defending comments he'd made earlier in the week that a bill aiming to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination at the state level was "bigoted," as The Charleston Gazette reports. He said this was because “the LGBT [sic] is the most socialist group in the country," adding that the case of far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos is evidence that people in the LGBTQ community “persecute” those who “do not line up with their social ideology.” Porterfield then reportedly expressed his view that protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination would therefore cause religious people to be “discriminated against.”
This provoked criticism from his colleagues in the West Virginia state House, according to Think Progress. Porterfield responded to that criticism by claiming that “the LGBTQ [sic] is a modern day version of the Ku Klux Klan, without wearing hoods with their antics of hate" and calling the LGBTQ community a "terrorist group," according to The Charleston Gazette.
Despite calls to resign from West Virginia Democrats, Porterfield hasn't backed off from his comments, according to NBC News.
"The LGBTQ — not homosexuals, but the LGBTQ — is the closest thing to political terrorism in America," Porterfield told NBC News. He continued, clarifying what he sees as the difference between "the LGBTQ" and gay people themselves:
The LGBTQ — not homosexuals — are the modern day version of the Ku Klux Klan. They 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.
Porterfield was referring to his congenital blindness.
During a television interview on WVVA, Porterfield later seemed to threaten violence if one of his children came out as gay. He told WVVA that he would take a lesbian-identified daughter out for a manicure and pedicure and then "see if she can swim," or take a gay-identified son out hunting and fishing and then to "see if he can swim." He then clarified, saying, "I'd just want to see if they could swim ... I'd take them out to do activities.”
Both West Virginia's Democratic and Republican parties condemned Porterfield's comments this week.
"Delegate Porterfield needs to resign," said West Virginia Democratic Party Chairwoman Belinda Biafore in a Facebook post. "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."
The state's GOP chairwoman, Melody Potter, stopped short of calling for him to resign. “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,” she said, according to NBC News. “These comments are unacceptable and we denounce them. They have no place in America."