South Carolina

Politician calls LGBTQ community the modern day Ku Klux Klan ‘without wearing hoods’

West Virginia state representative Eric Porterfield compared the LGTBQ community to the KKK.
West Virginia state representative Eric Porterfield compared the LGTBQ community to the KKK. West Virginia Legislature

A politician compared the LGBTQ community to terrorists and the Ku Klux Klan, the Charleston Gazette Mail reported.

“The LGBTQ is a modern day version of the Ku Klux Klan, without wearing hoods with their antics of hate,” West Virginia delegate Eric Porterfield said in a Feb. 8 interview, according to the newspaper.

The Republican state representative was responding to criticism he received for arguing against legislation that would prevent cities from discriminating against the LGBTQ community, per the Parkersburg News and Sentinel. Porterfield said residents of West Virginia “should have the freedom to fire or deny housing to someone based on sexual orientation if they disagree with it,” the News and Sentinel reported.

“The LGBT is the most socialist group in this country. They do not protect gays,” Porterfield said during the debate, according to the Charleston Gazette Mail. “There are many gays they persecute if they do not line up with their social ideology.”

He told the committee: “We cannot allow discriminatory bigots to determine how our citizens are going to live,” the Associated Press reported.

Porterfield was slammed for his comments by several Democrats, the Parkersburg News and Sentinel reported. That included a call for his resignation from the West Virginia Democratic Party, according to its Facebook page.

“Delegate Porterfield needs to resign,” the post said. “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 remarks were also condemned by Republicans.

“These comments are unacceptable and we denounce them,” West Virginia Republican Party Chairwoman Melody Potter said in a statement, according to CNN. “They have no place in America.”

Despite the criticism, Porterfield doubled down on his comments.

“The LGBTQ — not homosexuals, but the LGBTQ — is the closest thing to political terrorism in America,” the politician, who is blind, said in an interview with NBC News, where he wore a red “Make America Great Again” hat. “... “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.”

During that interview, Porterfield was asked how he would react if he was the father of an LGBTQ child.

“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,” video shows Porterfield saying. “If it was my son, I would probably take him hunting, I would take him fishing, then I’d see if he could swim.”

He took office in January, CNN reported. Porterfield is currently sponsoring seven bills, including legislation relating to exemptions from mandated immunizations, and the West Virginia Faith Freedom Act — which would allow West Virginia residents “free exercise of religion” without being “burdened by state action.”

Members of the Klu Klux Klan appeared at a rally at the South Carolina State House on July 17, 2015.

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Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.