A meeting of Pennsylvania state legislators that was supposed to be about a land-use bill went wildly offtrack Tuesday when a conservative lawmaker felt the need to loudly proclaim his heterosexuality.
Everything seemed business as usual until Rep. Matt Bradford lightly touched Rep. Daryl Metcalfe on the arm during Tuesday’s discussion. Metcalfe responded by interjecting, “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.”
“Keep your hands to yourself,” Metcalfe continued, as Bradford began to laugh. “If you want to touch somebody, you have people on your side of the aisle who might like it. I don’t.”
“We’re officially off the rails ... My intent was just to beg for your permission for about 30 seconds,” Bradford said.
Rep. Brian Sims, the only out gay member of Pennsylvania’s General Assembly, was present at Tuesday night’s meeting and witnessed Metcalfe’s reaction firsthand. “When he first had his outburst, my reaction was the same as every single person in the room. It was shock,” Sims said in a phone interview Wednesday. “This guy, this bigot, [was] expressing intense homophobia in a really inappropriate way.”
Sims also said he felt personally targeted, and that “as a gay man sitting in that room, it was mortifying.”
Metcalfe’s words Tuesday night were hardly the first time the state legislator expressed anti-gay sentiments — nor were they the first time he and Sims made headlines together.
In 2013, Metcalfe prevented Sims from speaking about same-sex marriage on the floor, the Associated Press reported. “For me to allow him to say things that I believe are open rebellion against God are for me to participate in his open rebellion,” Metcalfe told the AP at the time. “There’s no free speech on the floor.”
Sims publicly responded to Metcalfe’s outburst Tuesday with a series of Facebook posts, saying, “You can’t make this stuff up! The most homophobic, transphobic, racist, sexist, xenophobic member of our government is using legislative time and taxpayer dollars to interupt [sic] a meeting to announce his sexual orientation.”
The anti-trans bill to which Sims was referring is House Bill 1933, which would end coverage of gender-affirming medical care for transgender people who are insured through the Children’s Health Insurance Program and Medicaid. Speaking on the phone Wednesday, Sims called the bill a “gross” way of attacking trans people.