Just as West Virginia was prepared to lay claim to the title of "Best Virginia" last week amidst the controversies embroiling the state government of Virginia, West Virginia's past demons have reared their ugly heads once again.
Last week, Republicans on the Government Organization committee in the House of Delegates, led by Tom Bibby (R-Berkeley) and Eric Porterfield (R-Mercer), proposed an amendment that would strip the rights of West Virginia municipalities to pass non-discrimination laws at the local level. Delegate Porterfield defended the amendment with a hate filled speech condemning the LGBT community.
Unfortunately, the story doesn't end there. When approached by the local media in West Virginia to clarify his remarks, Delegate Porterfied doubled down and compared the LGBT community to the Ku Klux Klan and likened them to terrorists. Additionally, he claimed the controversy surrounding his remarks would strengthen his re-election odds and also implied he would allow his son to drown in a pool if he was gay.
This behavior is utterly abhorrent and is unbecoming of an elected official, especially at such a high level. West Virginia citizens at all levels need to condemn Delegate Porterfield's actions and behavior to send a message to the rest of the country and the world that West Virginia in an inclusive state that is welcoming to all. This is in the interest of all West Virginians, as Fortune 500 Companies won't want to relocate here if we discriminate.
Now is the perfect time to pass Employee Non-Discrimination Act legislation to send that very message. Democrats in the House of Delegates are currently attempting to bring HB 2733 to the floor for a vote, which would add "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the protected classes in the Human Rights Act. Let's get this bill passed and show the world West Virginia will not stand for bigotry and hatred.