UPDATE: W.Va. GOP chief rebukes delegate's remarks on gay community

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - UPDATE: 2/11/19 1:45 P.M.

The head of the West Virginia Republican Party has denounced comments from a GOP member of the House of Delegates about the gay community.

In a statement, State GOP chairwoman Melody Potter said Mercer County Delegate Eric Porterfield's comments were "hateful, hurtful, and do not reflect the values of our country, our state, and the Republican Party."

Last week, Porterfield saidhe thinks LGBTQ groups are "socialists," ''discriminatory bigots" and "a modern-day version of the Ku Klux Klan." He also called the gay community a "terrorist group."

Porterfield said he received threats after earlier remarks in a committee meeting in support of an amendment that would overrule local ordinances which protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination. The amendment failed.

Potter added that "intolerant and hateful views hold us back, divide us, and hurt our state."


UPDATE: 02/09/19

A West Virginia delegate has told a reporter he thinks "the LGBTQ is a modern day version of the Ku Klux Klan."

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports Del. Eric Porterfield made the comments after calling to discuss a story on controversial earlier comments. The Mercer Republican also told the reporter the gay community is a "terrorist group."

Porterfield said he is being persecuted for the remarks he made during a Wednesday committee meeting. He was speaking in support of an amendment that would overrule local ordinances that protect LGBTQ people from discrimination. At the meeting, he called LGBT groups "socialist" and "discriminatory bigots" who do not protect gays.

In a news release, the state Democratic Party chairwoman called for Porterfield's resignation.

Porterfield told the paper the controversy will boost his chances of re-election.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, http://wvgazettemail.com.

(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


ORIGINAL STORY: 02/08/19

Mercer County Delegate Eric Porterfield raised eyebrows and discussion this week, when he reportedly suggested residents should have the freedom to fire or deny someone housing based on their sexual orientation.

"Our state does better when we have inclusive and welcoming policies," Jennifer Bryant, a member of Fairness Parkersburg, said in reaction to the remarks, "and our town will do better as well."

The remarks came during debate on a bill that would, if passed, would limit what ordinances cities are allowed to enact.

Its language says its aimed at cities that have enacted their own ordinances on everything from minimum wage to bans on plastic products.

Several West Virginia cities have also passed non-discrimination laws,
although a similar law failed to get passage in 2017 by Parkersburg City Council.

"I'm encouraged, because this year there is a piece of legislation moving though, that, I think, has 36 sponsors," Bryant said, "that would be, in effect, an NDO for the entire state."

Although several delegates spoke out against Porterfield's remarks, the West Virginia Democratic Party called on the state GOP to denounce the Republican delegate's statements, and called for Porterfield to resign.

"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," Democratic Chairwoman Belinda Biafore said in a statement Friday. "The Republican leadership needs to condemn these actions."