CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) - State lawmakers may have tabled a controversial bill regarding LGBTQ community members protections, but the controversy continues as a West Virginia House Delegate is defending controversial remarks he made about the LGBTQ community.
Lawmakers in the government organization committee have shut down a controversial amendment that would limit a city's ability to name members of the LGBTQ community as a protected class that would open them up to the possibility for discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Currently, 12 cities across the state have LGBTQ protections in place. The proposed amendment would have put an end to that protection.
Republican Delegate Eric Porterfield of Mercer County supported the amendment and has come under fire for comments he made during committee.
Porterfield said it's not a legislator's job to legislate behavior, adding that LGBT groups are "socialists" who do not protect gays. He told the committee "We cannot allow discriminatory bigots to determine how our citizens are going to live."
13 News spoke with Porterfield in his office Friday evening.
"The Porterfield Campaign is going to stand up to these monsterous bullies known as the LGBTQ," the Delgate told 13 News.
"I totally disagree with homosexuality in my personal life, I'm not here to deprive anyone of their freedom but I am as anti LGBTQ as it gets because they are a political organization," he said.
Delegate Porterfield added, "The LGBTQ wants to constrict freedom, impliment socialistic ideas and penalize, punish, and fine people that don't agree with them and don't have the same views as America as them."
This legislative session there is a Senate bill and four House bills aimed at adding the state protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.
The West Virginia House of Delegates has set a record for the number of legislators in that chamber signing on as sponsors of LGBTQ nondiscrimination. This session four identical bills – HB2741, HB2755, HB 2763, and HB2733 -- were introduced containing the names of 36 delegates, an increase over the 33 that signed on in past years. House rules only permit 11 sponsors per bill.
Fairness West Virginia Executive Director Andrew Schneider said the overwhelming support is proof that West Virginia is ready to make history.
“We’ve waited long enough for these basic protections,” he said. “It’s really as simple as treating other people the way you would wish to be treated.”
In response to Delgate Porterfield's comments, Schneider was upset.
"Treat each other fairly, thats the highest commandment, that's the golden rule," Schneider told 13 News. "And this preacher, who is also a delegate, is doing the exact opposite of that."
Schneider added, "They are trying to do everything they can to hold on to the old way of life when discrimination was tolerated, but thats not the case anymore."
West Virginia Demoractic Party Chairwoman Belinda Biafore called for Porterfield's resignation.
"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," the chairwoman said in a statement.
In the meantime, Porterfield told 13 News he has received multiple threats since making the comments. The delegate, who is blind, said he worried about his safety and had to alert the Capitol Police.
This is a developing story. We will continue to update it as more information becomes available.
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