Reps should address Porterfield

Recently our state has been beset by comments made by a member of the Legislature. Delegate Porterfield, of Mercer County, compared LGBTQ citizens to the Ku Klux Klan as well as calling them terrorists, socialists, and more. This minister and professional missionary followed his tirade with an interview on WVVA in which he intimated that he would allow his own children (ages 4 and <1) to drown if they came out as gay themselves. While Porterfield doesn't directly represent us in the Wood County area, his original comments were made in a committee on which our own Delegate Tom Azinger serves. At the time of this writing, Azinger has yet to publicly disavow these hateful and disgusting statements. I have made repeated attempts to contact our legislators and have thus far heard back only from Delegate John Kelly, who said he is disappointed in these comments and Delegate Porterfield. Even he, however, hasn't made any steps to correct the fact that in West Virginia this kind of hate speech doesn't preclude someone from remaining in office. There are bills currently before the legislature that would protect LGBTQ citizens, (many of whom call Wood County home), from being fired or evicted simply for being themselves. Supporting this legislation would be a simple step to let LGBTQ West Virginians know that they deserve this basic dignity. It would be much better than mere lip service to constituents. In a reply email response to a community member who used the tagline “Hate has no home here,” state Sen. Mike Azinger said, “Unless it’s directed at Delegate Porterfield.”

Interestingly, Azinger and Delegate Porterfield are both alumni of Hyles Anderson College, an unaccredited school in Indiana. Hyles Anderson has been beleaguered by scandal but continues to offer courses such as a Bachelor of Science Minors in Pastoral Theology or Pastoral Assistant. There are specific programs for women featuring degrees in “Marriage and Motherhood” and “Secretarial Science.” While it would be out of character for Sen. Azinger to speak out against his fellow alumnus, it would be the moral and decent thing to do.

Perhaps one day Wood County will have representatives of whom we can be proud. At the very least, our legislators should act on the EHNDA which would provide basic protections for residents who have not only been publicly besmirched, but face the constant concern of losing their employment and/or housing.

Jennifer Bryant