A state lawmaker from Butler County accused of making homophobic remarks after a colleague sitting next to him touched his arm during a committee meeting Tuesday says news coverage of the incident misses the point of his comments.
“The spin that's being put on this is really surprising,” said state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-12, Wednesday morning from the House floor. “It's an outrageous way to spin the story.”
Metcalfe, who chairs the House State Government Committee, brought a meeting on a land-use bill to a screeching halt Tuesday, after Montgomery County Democrat Rep. Matt Bradford, D-70, who is the committee's minority chairman touched Metcalfe's left forearm while speaking about postponing a vote on the bill.
“Look, I'm a heterosexual. I have a wife, I love my wife, I don't like men — as you might. But stop touching me all the time,” said Metcalfe, interrupting Bradford's remarks.
A video of the meeting shows Bradford reacting to Metcalfe's initial statement by smiling and laughing.
By Tuesday evening ,the Pennsylvania Democratic Party was calling for Metcalfe's resignation, citing what it called his “repeated racism,” and attempts to silence gay lawmakers and hold up anti-discrimination laws before the committee.
Metcalfe, a conservative firebrand who has never shied away from confrontational exchanges with Democrats on the House floor and elsewhere, said Wednesday that he had been planning to speak out for some time, in response to Bradford's “inappropriate” conduct.
“I planned to say what I did yesterday,” said Metcalfe. “I've been planning it for weeks if not months. I've talked with staff and (committee) members about it.”
Metcalfe said Bradford has repeatedly touched his shoulder for “months and months,” despite Metcalfe's requests that he stop.
Metcalfe said Wednesday he had not reported the incident to capitol police, and was not planning to file a complaint or pursue the matter through the General Assembly's internal harassment protocols.
Bradford did not return a message left Wednesday morning seeking comment, but other Democrats on the committee describe being shocked and angered by Metcalfe's comments Tuesday.
Rep. Brian Sims, a Democrat representing Philadelphia, called Metcalfe's remarks “shocking” and an “odd and nasty outburst.”
“At first I think like everybody in the room, I was shocked,” he said. “Later on you add your feelings of anger and embarrassment and frustration.”
Sims, who is the only openly gay member of Pennsylvania's General Assembly and has clashed with Metcalfe multiple times in the past, went on to accuse Metcalfe of homophobia and bigotry.
A full report will appear in Thursday's Butler Eagle.