'I don't like men': Pennsylvania lawmaker halts meeting after male colleague touches his arm
While debating a land-use bill at a committee meeting on Tuesday night, Pennsylvania state Rep. Matt Bradford laid his hand - for just a moment - on the left forearm of the colleague sitting next to him.
That colleague was conservative Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, who interrupted Bradford mid-sentence with a personal bit of information.
"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," Metcalfe told Bradford, who then began laughing.
Several other members of the committee, which Metcalfe chairs, giggled and smirked.
"Keep your hands to yourself," said Metcalfe, a Republican from Butler County. "If you want to touch somebody, you have people on your side of the aisle who might like it.
Bradford, a Democrat, appeared to be stunned by the comments.
"OK, chairman, chairman," he said, widely grinning as committee members laughed.
One member appeared to conceal her face from the camera with her hand. "We're officially off the rails. ... My intent was just to beg for your permission for about 30 seconds."
"Then beg, don't touch," responded Metcalfe, who is serving his 10th term in office. Bradford continued to laugh.
"I don't know where we go from here, really," Bradford said.
Bradford is married to a woman and has four children, according to his online biography.
Neither Bradford nor Metcalfe could be immediately reached for comment.
Pennsylvania's first openly gay legislator, Rep. Brian Sims, sits on the state government committee and turned to Facebook to express his outrage toward Metcalfe, whom he called the Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus's "head bigot."
"PA State Representative Daryl Metcalfe disrupted a State Government Committee meeting this morning - about a land use bill! - to loudly declare his heterosexuality!" wrote Sims, a Democrat. "You can't make this stuff up! The most homophobic, transphobic, racist, sexist, xenophobic member of our government is using legislative time, and tax payer dollars, to interrupt a meeting to announce his sexual orientation."
In the wake of Metcalfe's comments, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party called for his resignation.
"Enough is enough. Daryl Metcalfe is a walking, talking embarrassment to Pennsylvanians and doesn't deserve the honor of serving in public office," said spokesman Brandon Cwalina in a statement.
In an interview with Triblive.com, Bradford said Metcalfe's comments were "unpleasant and awkward and appalling."
"In this day and age, that's really inappropriate," he said.
When asked by Triblive.com if he meant to suggest that Bradford is gay, Metcalfe said he did not know.
"I don't know what [Bradford's sexuality] is," he said. "But I know from him touching me all the time that he indicates he likes to touch men."
When informed of Metcalfe's response, Bradford told Triblive.com he often tries to calm Metcalfe down during contentious committee meetings and smooth disagreements between Metcalfe and other members.
"I speak with my hands," Bradford said. "I've tried to calm him down."
Metcalfe has repeatedly spoken out against homosexuality. In 2013, he invoked a House rule to stop Sims from speaking about the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage rulings.
"For me to allow [Sims] to say things that I believe are open rebellion against God are for me to participate in his open rebellion," Metcalfe told the Associated Press at the time.
He also led the charge to impeach then-Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who he said created a "constitutional crisis" by refusing to defend the state's same-sex marriage ban, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
When the Supreme Court recognized same-sex marriages across the country in 2015, Metcalfe said the justices displayed "judicial tyranny," according to PennLive.
"It shows what tyrants they are when they think that they can place themselves above God's law, above natural law, and above the will of the American people as we've seen it expressed in state after state after state," Metcalfe said.