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Virginia Democrats walk out as GOP-invited pastor denigrates gay people on House floor

Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates William J. Howell presiding over the House on January 12, 2012
Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates William J. Howell presiding over the House on January 12, 2012Photo: Germanna/via Wikipedia

Democratic lawmakers in Virginia’s legislature walked out this morning as a Republican-invited pastor delivered a prayer that condemned homosexuality.

Robert Grant Jr. of the Father’s Way Church in Warrenton, Virginia delivered the opening prayer for the House of Delegates this morning. He was invited by Del. Michael Webert (R).

Related: Virginia state legislator insists he should be able to discriminate against LGBT people legally

According to those who were present, Grant specifically denounced same-sex marriage and abortion, saying that God would bring “wrath” upon those who are on the wrong side of those political issues.

“Is this a prayer or a sermon?” a delegate shouted from the Democratic side.

As Democrats started filing out of the legislature, a man who was with Grant asked reporters if they knew that the Bible called for the death penalty as punishment for “sodomy.” The man has not been identified.

Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D) banged her gavel to end the prayer early and started the Pledge of Allegiance.

Del. Delores McQuinn (D) said that the prayers are usually just general blessings.

“In many ways it felt like condemnation,” she said of Grant’s prayer.

“It was totally disrespectful to all of us, all of us in this House,” Del. Luke Torian (D) told the Virginia Mercury.

Democrats took control of both houses of the Virginia legislature in last fall’s elections and have been busy working on LGBTQ legislation, which includes bills to ban conversion therapy, add sexual orientation and gender identity to civil rights protections, and require schools to issue the correct ID cards to transgender students.

Grant, for his part, called the Democrats “unprofessional” and feigned ignorance.

“If it’s my turn to have a voice, and I am a pastor, what do you expect from me?” he asked. “If you don’t want to hear what a pastor has to say, then don’t invite one.”

The Father’s Way Church’s website says that it is a non-denominational church that believes in speaking of tongues and casting out demons and works with anti-abortion organizations.

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