Delegate: Residents should be able to deny housing based on sexual orientation

Del. Eric Porterfield says it's not a legislator's job to legislate behavior, adding that LGBT groups are "socialists" who do not protect gays. (WCHS/WVAH)

A West Virginia delegate said residents should have the freedom to fire or deny someone housing based on their sexual orientation.

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel reported Republican Del. Eric Porterfield spoke out Wednesday in favor of a bill that would limit what ordinances cities are allowed to enact.

The bill was proposed by Republican Del. Tom Bibby, whose city recently passed an ordinance adding LGBTQ discrimination protections to its code, as have nearly a dozen other cities.

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."

Other delegates condemned his statements. In a fiery speech, Del. Mike Caputo, D-Marion, condemned the bill, saying he was told it would prevent municipalities from passing anti-discrimination bills and would make any existing ones that passed null and void.

"You can cut the cheese any way you want to want to cut it, but the purpose of the amendment was to spread hate across West Virginia again," Caputo said. "That's what the amendment does."

Caputo said he wants to attract large companies to West Virginia.

"Everyone of these companies I read about has anti-discrimination policies within their corporations, but we want to tell them we're so backwoods in West Virginia that we don't want to protect people," Caputo said.

In a news release, West Virginia Democratic Party Chairwoman Belinda Biafore called for Republican leadership to denounce Porterfield's hate-filled remarks and actions.

"First of all, Delegate Porterfield needs to resign," Biafore 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 hate-filled remarks and actions speak volumes and so does the Republican Party's silence. The Republican majority's leadership needs to condemn these actions. Their silence is complicit and the people of West Virginia deserve better."

Porterfield declined the newspaper's request for comment.

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